Two questions new and/or unrepped & unsold screenwriters often ask are:
“How do I get repped?” and “How do I get my work in front of a rep/exec?”
Most writers ask because they genuinely don’t know or they’re getting a second opinion from a writer who may have more experience. And I’m all for this. A great way to learn is to ask questions. I ask them all the time.
But, I have also seen some people ask multiple writers the same question over and over again as if they hope they’ll get a different answer they didn’t get the first eleventy times. And to these people I say, there is no secret answer that we’re not sharing. No special sauce. No secret recipe with eleven herbs and spices. It’s the same answer for everyone.
WRITE A GREAT SCRIPT
Thinking about writing it? Being halfway done writing it? Did a draft, but still needs work? Nope. Go away and write a great (not mediocre and full of tropes & typos, but great) script. And to be honest, you’ll do yourself a lot of favors if you write multiple great scripts. But for now, let’s focus on just one. So, go on. Go write it. I’ll wait.
*whistles theme song to Flash Gordon*
Hai! You’re back. Did you finish? Is it great? *stares at you* Congratulations! Okay. Now what?
There is a saying that “Great scripts find their way.” But, what does “find their way” mean relative to getting it in front of a rep or exec?
It means you have to put your work in a position where it can be noticed. Where people can read it then say, “Hey, did you read (insert great script)? You gotta read it! It’s so good!”
There are four ways to do this. But, let me know if you have more.
1) Contests - I can’t speak for the entire industry, but I feel confident enough to say that there are only a handful of contests that reps and execs care about. And as proud you may be about being a finalist in the Dubuque Film Festival (congratulations, by the way); most anyone of note will not.
Two big ones that I would recommend, of which I have no affiliation, are The Academy Nicholl Fellowship and the Austin Film Festival. If you win then you will definitely get calls from reps. And even if you don’t win, but are a Finalist you will most likely get calls from reps. Everyone below that, probably not gonna get anything. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Beyond these two, there are others that execs and reps might respond to. There are a lot of contests out there. But, it’s up to you to figure out which ones are worth your while. But generally, the smaller they are the less anyone cares.
2) Queries - Some people say this is a waste of time. I disagree. And here’s an article I wrote on why: To Query or Not To Query
Please consult the Internet on how to do this correctly. There are numerous articles and horror stories from which you can learn exactly what to do and not to do. You can also ask writers who have successfully done it.
3) The Blacklist - Hosting your script and getting favorable reviews (8 or higher) can potentially lead to meetings, representation, sales and even Oscar winning movies. I haven’t ever used it, but if I were unrepped I certainly would. You can’t deny their track record. Or their ethos which is supporting writers.
4) Networking (aka The Vouch) - Getting your script handed to someone is kind of like being brought into the mafia; if you get a vouch then you’re okay. So, if I’m a rep or exec, nothing beats having someone I trust put a script in front of me and say, “You HAVE to read this.”
But, who is the someone?
An obvious someone would be another exec or rep. Maybe you’re friends, or friendly enough, with a TV rep, but you wrote a feature. However, if they read and love your feature they could give it to a feature rep.
Another person is the ubiquitous Assistant. Of the million things they have to do, one of them is read scripts. And if they find one they love (and is right for the company they work for), they’re going to give it to their boss.
Other established writers. Actors with star power. Known directors. Anyone you can find that is a “legitimate” SOMEONE to vouch for your script will often rank higher than any other method.
There are some things you generally shouldn’t do. Some of which are listed HERE in a piece written by my friend and writer, Bob Saenz. Some others include YouTube videos, ads in the trades, crowdfunding campaigns for scripts based on IP you don’t own and so on. Another is don’t be a crazy person.
If you are unsure of where the line is on “crazy person” then ask someone before you break into the Marvel offices dressed as Wolverine to pitch your unauthorized Origins reboot.
But, the simple answer to “How do I get a rep?” is write a great script then help it find its way.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is not the first article written on the subject nor will it be the last. But, I wanted something I could hand out the next time someone asked me. 😉 ]