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misc Four completed scripts. Is it time to look for representation?

Yeah I've heard that before. No way to go around it huh ?
If you have an agent or manager? They could gently bring that up in a meeting but unless you have a real track record of production? I'd be worried that they'll never want to have a meeting with you again.

If it were me? I'd keep a very detailed LOG of who I query and how. Whether or not you had to sign a release. Who you dealt with. How long it took for them to respond. You never want to try and remember any of this later on down the line. Plus? You keep all emails if you're querying by email. Always copyright your scripts as well... Not just the WGA's time stamp.

But also know and realize... Only execution can be copyrighted. You can of course, type up a treatment or even a smaller synopsis and copyright that as well. Up to you. The only real way you can fight anyone in the industry legally is if you have a copyright on your material. Unfortunately, anyone can take the concept and kick it up a few notches if they don't think your logline or screenplay gets the job done.

That's ultimately why it's better to have your material submitted via an agent or manager... The producer is always going to think twice before stealing a concept if an agent or manager is involved.
 
If it were me? I'd keep a very detailed LOG of who I query and how. Whether or not you had to sign a release. Who you dealt with. How long it took for them to respond.
Aside from keeping a log of everything ,how do you decide these? Who to query or not? when should you sign the release when shouldn't you sign the release?
 
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Well me personally? I would only query producers with a decent amount of credits but even then? I would perform a Google search of them -- both on the web and in the news -- to see if there are any red flags. Producers with no credits? I personally wouldn't even bother. If they are reputable producers? I'd always sign a release.
 
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Let's say your pitch works and they ask for the whole script. In your experience how many times is that script liable to be stolen? Is this stealing part an overrated thing, is it pure paranoia or a rookie move to think that or does that actually happen? Does this happen more often for writers who send scripts from outside the U.S? I know you can register scripts but let's face it if you don't have an entertainment attorney who can fight for you in L.A(which is the case for most up-n-comin writers since they don't have the money to afford one), there is not much you can do if your script gets stolen even if it is registered. What is your advice for writers who send query letters to Hollywood outside of U.S?

Scripts do get stolen. But not like you think.
If you pitch and get a request, a legit Producer will ask you to sign a Release Form or he won't read you. Send it in.

A truly original story is called a Non-Derivative Script, and they are very rare. Chances are, your script is not original. We all like to think ours is, but it's not. There are a lot of scripts out there. So most of the people who think someone stole thier script are wrong. It was just parallel thinking.
Also, it's financial suicide to steal a script and get sued. And lawyers are easy to get because the Producer has to settle or shut the production down. It's cheaper to just buy the script in the first place.

However, there are plenty of people who will scam you out of a script if you let them. It happens all the time. They'll make a lot of promises, fill your head with stars and get you to sign away your rights and give you zip in return. This is what Agents are for. They negotiate your contracts. They don't go out and try to get you work--that's a myth as far as writers are concerned. So again, if offered a contract, you won't have a problem getting an Agent, because all he'll do is negotiate the contract. He does not care about your career, only the project.

I once had a Cinematographer and his below-the-line-Agent try to bully me into sharing writers credit on a super-low budget script I wrote that they wanted. The guy threatened my career if I didn't cooperate. He actually said I never work in this business again!
I also had an indie filmmaker try to trade me 10 copies of Final Draft 11 for the same script. I was just going to give it to her, but she pulled out this software and a contract. Buried in the contract was a clause that gave her the right to all written by screen credit.

So watch yourself, but don't worry too much. And don't sign a contract without having it checked by a professional.
 
Scripts do get stolen. But not like you think.
If you pitch and get a request, a legit Producer will ask you to sign a Release Form or he won't read you. Send it in.

A truly original story is called a Non-Derivative Script, and they are very rare. Chances are, your script is not original. We all like to think ours is, but it's not. There are a lot of scripts out there. So most of the people who think someone stole thier script are wrong. It was just parallel thinking.
Also, it's financial suicide to steal a script and get sued. And lawyers are easy to get because the Producer has to settle or shut the production down. It's cheaper to just buy the script in the first place.

However, there are plenty of people who will scam you out of a script if you let them. It happens all the time. They'll make a lot of promises, fill your head with stars and get you to sign away your rights and give you zip in return. This is what Agents are for. They negotiate your contracts. They don't go out and try to get you work--that's a myth as far as writers are concerned. So again, if offered a contract, you won't have a problem getting an Agent, because all he'll do is negotiate the contract. He does not care about your career, only the project.

I once had a Cinematographer and his below-the-line-Agent try to bully me into sharing writers credit on a super-low budget script I wrote that they wanted. The guy threatened my career if I didn't cooperate. He actually said I never work in this business again!
I also had an indie filmmaker try to trade me 10 copies of Final Draft 11 for the same script. I was just going to give it to her, but she pulled out this software and a contract. Buried in the contract was a clause that gave her the right to all written by screen credit.

So watch yourself, but don't worry too much. And don't sign a contract without having it checked by a professional.
This was super helpful! Thank you!
 
I need to clear something up here.
In Hollywood, Everybody talks about scripts we've been reading, all the time. That's what you as writers want.
The reason is that anyone who brings a script to a Producer stands to get an Associate Producer screen credit and pay if the project comes to fruition. That's how Studio System movies get made. The original Black List was a list of the most read (but unproduced) scripts in town. That's how you become a Working Screenwriter, by getting read, not by making a sell.
You should know that a producer who likes your script is going to show it to strangers on the subway to raise financing if he has to. I'm not kidding.
Secrets are for keeping; don't make your script a secret. Show it to anyone who will look at it.
 
Somehow, sending one's intellectual property to someone you don't know or trust who doesn't know or trust you doesn 't sound like a win-win situation. Wouldn't it make more sense to make reliable friends in the industry — at any level — helping them out and showing yourself to be a trusted partner, then eventually start circulating your projects through them?
 
> Is it time to look for representation?

Definitely.. If you've sold 4 scripts already, I'm surprised you don't already have representation.
 
> Is it time to look for representation?

Definitely.. If you've sold 4 scripts already, I'm surprised you don't already have representation.
There must be a misunderstanding. I didn't sell 4 scripts (I wish!). I wrote them.
So my question was if I can be considered "ready" for representation now that I have 4 completed scripts, to show that I can keep writing and not run out of ideas.
Of course it also depends on the quality of these 4 scripts, but let's pretend they are good enough (or at least 1 or 2 of them are). Would 4 be a good number to start looking for representation?

In the meantime I am following geckopelli's advice and preparing logline and synopsis for all my stories.
Now I might actually thinking to finish my fifth script too, as I believe it is going to be one of my best ones, and don't want to risk to burn any bridge just because I am in a rush to seek representation.
Or perhaps it's acceptable to get in touch with agents who might not be interested on my current scripts, to then try again (with those same agents) with my next one? Or are they just going to avoid me, as I have already wasted the chance they gave me in the first place?
 
There must be a misunderstanding. I didn't sell 4 scripts (I wish!). I wrote them.
So my question was if I can be considered "ready" for representation now that I have 4 completed scripts, to show that I can keep writing and not run out of ideas.
Of course it also depends on the quality of these 4 scripts, but let's pretend they are good enough (or at least 1 or 2 of them are). Would 4 be a good number to start looking for representation?

In the meantime I am following geckopelli's advice and preparing logline and synopsis for all my stories.
Now I might actually thinking to finish my fifth script too, as I believe it is going to be one of my best ones, and don't want to risk to burn any bridge just because I am in a rush to seek representation.
Or perhaps it's acceptable to get in touch with agents who might not be interested on my current scripts, to then try again (with those same agents) with my next one? Or are they just going to avoid me, as I have already wasted the chance they gave me in the first place?
I think 4 finished scripts is enough to start contacting agents. The only thing that could stop you from doing so is the quality of your scripts. If you are self aware enough that your scripts are good, or have received some positive feedback (from professionals) on them, then do it. You don't want to put your name out there as somebody who writes bad scripts. So make sure your scripts are up to the task before sending them out.
 
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There must be a misunderstanding. I didn't sell 4 scripts (I wish!). I wrote them.
So my question was if I can be considered "ready" for representation now that I have 4 completed scripts, to show that I can keep writing and not run out of ideas.
Of course it also depends on the quality of these 4 scripts, but let's pretend they are good enough (or at least 1 or 2 of them are). Would 4 be a good number to start looking for representation?

In the meantime I am following geckopelli's advice and preparing logline and synopsis for all my stories.
Now I might actually thinking to finish my fifth script too, as I believe it is going to be one of my best ones, and don't want to risk to burn any bridge just because I am in a rush to seek representation.
Or perhaps it's acceptable to get in touch with agents who might not be interested on my current scripts, to then try again (with those same agents) with my next one? Or are they just going to avoid me, as I have already wasted the chance they gave me in the first place?

I know plenty of writers who have a dozen scripts under their belt and good agents won't touch them with a 10ft pole.

The harsh reality is, it'll come down to whether the agent can make money representing you. At the moment, your actual value is zero. So, it'll come down to your potential value. Kind of like, you need a job to get the experience, but you need experience to get the job. Do you have a compelling reason where you can convince an agent that you have a decent potential value so they'll take a punt on you?

Most writers aren't worth the time it takes for the agent to take the initial meeting, so you'd need to find a way to convince them you're worth their time investment in you. Is your elevator pitch that good? You could snag a desperate and crappy agent who needs clients to peddle but they won't know what they're doing, but how is that going to help you?
 
I know plenty of writers who have a dozen scripts under their belt and good agents won't touch them with a 10ft pole.

The harsh reality is, it'll come down to whether the agent can make money representing you. At the moment, your actual value is zero. So, it'll come down to your potential value. Kind of like, you need a job to get the experience, but you need experience to get the job. Do you have a compelling reason where you can convince an agent that you have a decent potential value so they'll take a punt on you?

Most writers aren't worth the time it takes for the agent to take the initial meeting, so you'd need to find a way to convince them you're worth their time investment in you. Is your elevator pitch that good? You could snag a desperate and crappy agent who needs clients to peddle but they won't know what they're doing, but how is that going to help you?
What would you suggest, then? Win some contests first? Get some coverage by respected professionals so that they can be used as reference? Get an intership in a company as a script reader? Or what else?
 
What would you suggest, then? Win some contests first? Get some coverage by respected professionals so that they can be used as reference? Get an intership in a company as a script reader? Or what else?

It's one of those chicken or the egg things. I don't have experience in breaking in as a successful writer. It's not an area I've ever considered chasing, so I'm drawing on experience taken from other career choices.

You need to figure out how you can break in. Your goal needs to be to sell some scripts and/or get paid work. Your efforts need to push you towards that goal. To get some half reasonable offers on the table and then an agent will come on board. I'd suggest networking with those who can help your career so you build up your professional contacts to help push your career forward. It'll be tough, as you're a nobody.

Unless you're a naturally top shelf talented writer, I don't think the passive ideas like competitions and coverage counts for much. You have to go out and make it happen. The world won't come to you.

Ask some writers (and/or other decision makers) who have the success you're chasing, how they broke in.
 
Somehow, sending one's intellectual property to someone you don't know or trust who doesn't know or trust you doesn 't sound like a win-win situation. Wouldn't it make more sense to make reliable friends in the industry — at any level — helping them out and showing yourself to be a trusted partner, then eventually start circulating your projects through them?
That's how it's done-- send it out on request.
Sure there are better possibilities, but they ain't gonna happen. Screenwriters have zero chance if they don't put thier workout there. And the fact is that you can make all the friends in the Industry you want, but you'll find they're not so quick to lay their reputation and maybe their job on the line for your script, because that's what they're doing if they go to bat for you.
As far as Producers not trusting Writers, that's on the Writers. They claim their scripts were stolen all the time because of similarities. I had a guy pitch a TV Show at me once. It was a show I watched when I was a kid, "It's About Time", but he thought it was an original idea, and I was trying to steal it. It was so close, he must have seen the show as a small child. He didn't believe me until I sung the show's theme song at him. So don't be so quick to think your "original" script is original, muchless worth stealing. Producers need Screenwriters more than they need scripts.
In any case, fish or cut bait. If you're not willing to send your script out on the Producer's Terms, you're wasting your time writing it.

Attached is the standard Release Form we use at Secret Life Productions.
 

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I know plenty of writers who have a dozen scripts under their belt and good agents won't touch them with a 10ft pole.

The harsh reality is, it'll come down to whether the agent can make money representing you. At the moment, your actual value is zero. So, it'll come down to your potential value. Kind of like, you need a job to get the experience, but you need experience to get the job. Do you have a compelling reason where you can convince an agent that you have a decent potential value so they'll take a punt on you?

Most writers aren't worth the time it takes for the agent to take the initial meeting, so you'd need to find a way to convince them you're worth their time investment in you. Is your elevator pitch that good? You could snag a desperate and crappy agent who needs clients to peddle but they won't know what they're doing, but how is that going to help you?
That's correct. If you want someone to help your career, you need a Manager, not an Agent.
To reiterate, Agents do not shop scripts for unknown writers, and rarely for working writers. Agents negotiate contracts once you find a buyer. If you're good, your Agent might catch a writing assignment for you now and then, but that's about it.
 
That's correct. If you want someone to help your career, you need a Manager, not an Agent.
To reiterate, Agents do not shop scripts for unknown writers, and rarely for working writers. Agents negotiate contracts once you find a buyer. If you're good, your Agent might catch a writing assignment for you now and then, but that's about it.
How do you go about finding a manager?
 
How do you go about finding a manager?
Indeed. It looks like it is much easier to find an agent than a manager. Even when you search strictly for managers online you come up with a list full of agents.
Is there anything different that should be done in order to find managers?
 
In the United States? Nope. You almost always have to get a REFERRAL to an agent. It's the same with Managers but you can also query Managers while most agents are never going to reply to a query. One man shops might if your query STINGS and IMPRESSES them with your logline but it's gotta be good... Think HIGH CONCEPT. Top agencies and many top management firms won't even open a query email. They will only meet you through a referral.

Middle tier management firms and one-man agencies will often read your query but even then? If you expect to get a foot in the door? Your pitching logline has got to be something they'll think they can sell. Again... Think High Concept. Some managers might be more willing to work with a screenwriter who can really write but doesn't have anything high concept... YET.

Other than that? You can perform some research on Producers who've produced similar films to what you've written but don't go to them with something too similar because they've already made that film. I'd never recommend blindly sending email queries to producers all over LA with some service. They get hit hard with these services all the time and while they might actually open an email if the subject line is tasty enough? Most of the time, their assistants will just hit delete.

Having said that... There are still Producers out there willing to accept an email query. There's no real list however. You've got to do some research and find their contact information and trust me... Some of them are NOT going to like getting an email query. While email queries used to be pretty standard back in the day? Today, more and more producers look at them as if you're possibly stalking them so you've got to make sure your email is clear. Obviously do NOT mention anything about NOT being a stalker... LOL. But let them know right off the bat that you're a screenwriter and you're querying them. Make that clear so they do NOT misinterpret your communication.

A lot of Producers will respond to a GOOD email query as long as you've got a great logline. IF they like your logline well enough? They will usually ask for the script or send you their release form to sign (digital signatures work) and send back to them along with your script. There's a handful of Producers out there who will EXPECT you to NOT send your script to anyone else WHILE they are evaluating your script. They'll let you know that in an email IF they like your logline well enough to ask for your script.

This is just my recommendation... IF you are lucky enough to get a Producer to request your script and they PASS on it as most obviously will? Don't be afraid to ASK FOR A REFERRAL to an agent or manager. You'll know RIGHT AWAY if they liked your writing or not... LOL. If they give you a referral? They liked your writing. If they do NOT respond or tell you they don't know anyone to refer you to? You can pretty much assume they didn't like your writing.

Another way to query is to cinematographers... I can't go into how to find them here but there's a ton of them who are in fact represented by agencies who have their resumes ONLINE. If you are willing to perform your due diligence and figure out how to search for those resumes via Google? You can get their contact information pretty easily. Many cinematographers aspire to become directors and many of them are passively looking for a great screenplay to break into directing with. If your scripts aren't high concept? This can be a good way to go because a lot of cinematographers want to try and break in with some kind of Indie fare. Cinematographers are not going to have you sign a release and if they like your writing well enough and your communication with them is NICE enough? Many are willing to refer you to their agency.

You're not gonna read this anywhere else... It ain't in any book either. It's just out of the box thinking.

*EDIT: I forgot to mention that when you query a Producer via email? Perform some research on them first. If you have to watch one or more of their movies? Do that. Why? So you can include some kind of information about them in your query that lets them know you admire them or their movies or hopefully... BOTH. LOL. Hollywood is RUN on EGOS. The more you STROKE those egos, the more willing they are to read your work but don't be an obvious brown-noser -- don't be a nuisance. It's got to feel ORGANIC to them.
 
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