When my script, “Master’s Key” made the Top 5 of Final Draft’s Big Break contest, it was one of several positive reviews for this script and I thought, “here we go, baby!” I edited my digital business cards, bought a new top…the kind you dry-clean, and put new pens in my computer bag. Then I sat back and waited…and waited…and ate sorbet…and got depressed.
The script was already being scouted by ScriptShark and of course, the logline was sent out to subscribers of the various contests. But what was I doing to advance my cause? I’m as far away from L.A. as I can be without speaking another language. My professional background is marketing and motherhood, which limits my address book to exactly no one who could help me to sell my script. Or does it?
I opened my contact file and started reading all those copious notes that I’ve taken over the years (see last column). I looked for any links to Hollywood, no matter that they might be thin as spider’s silk. I was amazed to find several people, who connected to people, who connected to…and so on. I followed those connections as far as they could go and then I fired up my online film industry database. When I was finished, I had drawn a map of contacts that stretched from my little country house all the way to England and back to Los Angeles!
I spend a lot of hours waiting by the phone. I also have to check the texts, tweets, emails, blog comments, Facebook pokes, LinkedIn Inmails, and snail mail. I’m not kidding about the last one, someone actually sent me a real letter…on paper! I still haven’t met my significant other au cinema.
I read a women’s magazine that said, when looking for a new relationship, take a personal inventory and make whatever changes necessary to attract an ideal mate. So, I make a list of the skills that seem important in a screenwriter: entertaining writing “voice”, professional demeanor, entertaining + enlightening scene work (see earlier blog on Killing Your Story), and ability to sell the story.
I’m most terrified of selling my stories, which is universally dreaded by writers under the alias “Making The Pitch”. This dark topic includes writing enticing loglines, plugging into the social network, and delivering the in-person sales pitch, usually to a jaded executive wearing a very big watch.
I start with the Netflix website, rewriting the movie synopses into concise and scintillating loglines. Then, I see if my beleaguered friends and family can guess which movie. I am rarely invited for games of Pictionary anymore. This is also a great way to shorten my holiday card list because most of these people don’t want to hear from me ever again.
Since you are reading my blog, let’s consider the social networking task checked off. I know there are many more aspects to working the internet, but The Odyssey wasn’t written in a day. I practice my in-person pitch by working spontaneous movie ideas into conversation. Currently, my style ranges from verbal vomiting to the halting one-word fragments of my stupid ex-boyfriend who still lives with his parents. I am a work in progress.
When the phone starts ringing, the computer starts pinging, and the couriers are lined up down my drive, I will follow advice from Lee Zahavi-Jessup, of ScriptShark, who advised her students to know when “following-up becomes stalking.” I’m quite sure, this will also be a problem for me.
Until then…I am an irresistibly dynamic scriptwriter with a sweet rack of entertaining screenplays, looking for a loyal, well-connected and financially healthy production company to take long cinematic walks on the beach together. Call me…