Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Queries and Knowing People

In my How (Not) to Get an Agent post, I told you not to bother querying the top Hollywood agencies. Then a bunch of you asked, but what about the smaller ones? Should we bother? I personally didn't know...but the answer I got from a guy who works at a management/production company tonight at a bar (I love networking...) is - YES! Go ahead! Now, he certainly can't speak for everyone in town, but he says that his company absolutely accepts queries. He gets about a hundred a week, and from those he requests 3-4 scripts. Of all the scripts he's read, he has passed on 4 or 5 to upper level people at his company. So it's still a bit of a long shot...but if you can write a great query and a great script, consider it an open door.

I know you want me to tell you what company this is, but I don't think it would be fair of me. Do some research; they accept them online. This also brings me to another point: managers. Writers are always focused on getting an agent, and often forget about managers - even though it's common to get a manager first. So if you're going to send out queries to smaller agencies in Hollywood, you might as well go for some smaller management companies too. In your query, SELL your idea. Keep it brief, but enthusiastic. Draw them in. And most of all, be absolutely sure your script is ready to be read.

I've also heard some people lament that they just don't KNOW anybody - and as I've said before, knowing people will get you farther than the greatest query letter or cover letter on earth. But here's the thing - I didn't know anyone either. My dad works in a factory. My mom is a teacher. My sister took her English degree and got a job in banking (at 25, she makes four times what I do). My brother is 17 and obsessed with paintball.

When I came out to LA for a semester, I got one internship by cold-faxing someone and the other by applying online. (Interns are free labor - who doesn't want that? Honestly, just pick a company you'd like to work at and find a phone number/fax number/email. If you're halfway intelligent they'll probably say yes.) I kept in touch with my supervisors, and when I moved to LA I asked them if they knew anybody at agencies. One of them knew an assistant, and sent my resume to her with the request that she send it to HR to be put at the top of the mailroom pile. I had applied to this same agency a few weeks before per an internet posting and heard nothing. But after my boss's email, they called me within hours to set up the interview. And here I am.

Maybe I "know people" now - but I didn't when my story began.


Screenwriter Shep said...

How good you are at your job determines who you get to know.

And if you suck, it doesn't matter who you know. (Barring blackmail)

Randall Bobbitt said...

Amanda you don't have to tell us who the manager/agent was last night.. just tell us what bar?

Nicholas said...

I must say thank you for this blog. I found it after the amazing Jane Espenson linked to it from hers. The insights you give into how to get your foot in the door are invaluable.