MY OPEN LETTER TO WRITERS
You may or may not have an agent, but an effective way to get a script to even a modestly established actor/actress is through his/her legal reps (agent, attorney, manager). Reason being, without going through those proper channels the actor subjects himself to possible legal issues. The unestablished writer, especially a non-union writer has little to lose.
They can accuse the actor of stealing his/her idea further down the line, and such a simple accusation can halt an entire studio production. Even if it's not true, it can still result in a lot of unnecessary legal ramifications and the tarnishing of that actor's reputation.
The last thing any actor wants is to be in a legal battle with a writer who has no existing bodies of work in the market space, no credits, no following, no representation, no etiquette and/or regard for protocol. That is a sign of an inexperienced writer who may not understand the true process of film development, etc.
But there is hope! Another way to get a script to even a modestly established actor is through an established referral. As a writer, I’m sure you are in a network of other writers and writing mentors. Have your mentor(s) vouch for you. The actor, agent or manager is going to IMDB anyone who approaches them and if your mentor has a good track record, they’ll take you both more seriously.
Also, if you have a friend who is an established actor, THAT is your in! You can definitely get them to take you seriously. Best way to go about that is to write something specifically for him/her with his/her voice. Get the actor/actress behind it and have them walk it into their rep. You may even be able to have the actor’s agent help you meet with writing agents.
I’m not sure if you’ve submitted to some of the more reputable writing competitions and workshops out there. But if you are a serious writer, working your way up through the ranks, you probably have done some of these submissions. Being a winner or an honored talent in these amateur writing competitions looks good on your resume.
Also, a body of existing work in the film festival, YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, etc. space helps especially if you manage to develop somewhat of a following. I know movies that were made just based on that alone. The movie HOT ROD, for instance. Those guys were found on the Internet. There are many talents like that.
Without some existing body of work (independent film, digital, publications), especially today, I don’t know an actor who will take someone who pops up on the Internet proposing to write for them seriously. Nor do I know of any modestly established actor who takes the time to respond as in depth as I have.
I get hundreds of offers like this a week and I’m not even considered a household name. I'm considered more of a household face. I’m the “modestly established” actor I was referencing. Think about all the “writers” approaching people on the A-list level.
Ultimately, I am saying that Hollywood is a town that invests in proven track records and success stories. Yes, there is always the exception to the rule but for the most part, Hollywood is not the most nurturing environment I’ve ever been in, which is why I took the time to write this.
I want to see you succeed. The above is a good gauge of how things work in this Hollywood bubble. The following is a simpler breakdown of things you can do to further your career and be taken more seriously as a writer:
- Have a friend in the industry with a respectable body of work or credible reputation (manager/agent) vouch for you.
- Submit your screenplays to the more reputable screenplay writing competitions and those competitors will turn you onto more competitions and a network of writers as well.
- Film/video content of your own and use it to build your following and reputation in the film festival world, Hollywood and/or in the digital space. (my favorite choice)
- Aggressively seek out a writing agent.
- Work hard to get an internship at some of the agencies you aspire to be with, or try to become a writer’s assistant. Be a PA on existing productions if necessary. But sometimes the closer you can get to the network the better.
- Seek out established writers who are willing to mentor you. Dave Talbert is a successful writer/director who has a great mentorship program.
If you haven’t at least invested that much time into your craft you’ll be regarded a dabbler and Hollywood isn’t very considerate of dabblers.
"The irony is, most people wanting to pitch their screenplays to me will not even take the time to read this!" 😂
The majority of people posting things to my wall such as "Put me in your movie!" or "Read my screenplay!" are really saying "Make it EASY for me." What YOU must do is separate yourself from that group by doing the work. It takes more than writing to be a successful Hollywood writer. Trust me, you will benefit far more from being a self generator than from being self-proclaimed.
Lastly, here is a video of writer/director/actor Mark Duplass telling it like it is at the 2015 SXSW writer's conference. This talk is the most realistic depiction of what it takes to succeed as a writer/filmmaker in Hollywood I’ve seen to date: Aspiring Film Makers
Break a leg fam! In fact, break TWO legs! Thank you for supporting my passion project (Prison Logic Crowdfunder)! You've helped make it a possibility!!!
Better believe, I will be checking in on my LIVE CHAT for a progress report!