Friday, August 26, 2011

Do your research

Every now and then I'll get a query letter. Doesn't happen often - maybe three times a year - but it tells me something about the writer.

I have a website that lists me as a producer. At the time when I set the site up, I really intended to produce short films, starting with my own. I produced one film, did very little with it, then decided producing was not for me. I have plans to work on the website and retool it, but have been super lazy about it.

So the website sits there, mostly abandoned, but every now and then someone sees it and emails me their logline to see if I want to produce their screenplay.

This tells me something about the person who sent the query. I'm sure they're very excited and worked hard on their script, but they didn't do shit for research.

If you look me up on IMDB you'll see that my only credit thus far is as a zombie victim in a terrible web series. I had no lines. I walked down an alley, I got bit, I died. My other uncredited work includes voice over on an unfinished comedy short about colonoscopies, a murder suspect in a short film about an interrogation, and of course directing, writing and producing my own short film, Game Night. I don't look that great on paper.

This reminds me, I need to put Game Night up on Vimeo. I'm adding that to the list of things to do next week.

The point is, anybody can call themselves a producer. I'm a producer. I don't actually produce anything, but I'm a producer. But if I were producing things, they'd be my own projects, and maybe the projects of my friends. I'm a writer first and foremost. I don't even want to direct. So I definitely don't have the clout or the interest to develop something that comes to me through queries.

It wouldn't take much to find this out. A quick check on IMDB, a glance at the Tracking Board, a Google search. That's why I always assume the logline I get in these queries is probably a first script. You write your first script, you get super excited, you send it to EVERYONE, then you start learning the ropes. Then you discover how ridiculously ignorant you were in the beginning. We've all been there.

Everyone in this town exaggerates their accomplishments, and they all blow smoke up your ass. You have to learn to discern between the truth and the fluff.

So when you send your script to every producer ever in the history of producing, you run the risk of being scammed, or at least used. There are a ton of "agencies" and "production companies" that LOVE your work, but they need a little cash up front just to get this thing of the ground. Those are ALL scams, particularly the reps. Any agent or manager who asks for money up front is a fraud. They feed on the kind of desperate writers who don't do any research.

And there are producers who will give you a $1 option then tuck your script away, never to be seen again.

So please, everybody, look up the people you want to query. Find out everything you can about them. And if she, say, rewrites your logline and gives you a couple of good websites to check out so you can learn how the business works, don't take it personally. I'm only trying to help.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.