There are a variety of places that you can find directors, producers, and production companies looking to hire screenwriters. For instance, our own SYS Select leads, InkTip, Mandy.com and even Craig’s List.
All too often I see screenwriters sabotage their chances of getting hired with poorly thought out responses to these types of leads. When you find a good lead there will most likely be dozens if not hundreds of other screenwriters trying to get that same job, so your initial query has got to be professional and stand out.
I’ve seen screenwriters simply reply to the lead with a short email that says something like:
“I’m interested.” Or “Is this real?” Or “Does this lead pay?” Or “Are you still looking for a writer?” Or “How soon are you looking to bring someone on?”
Don’t do this. Act professional and you will be treated professionally. These sorts of short unprofessional responses will get you no where.
When responding to one of these leads you should personalize it as much as possible, referencing the ad that you saw.
Let’s say there is a lead that says something like this:
Production company looking to hire a screenwriter to adapt a psychological thriller novel into a screenplay. Produced writers or contest winners only, with experience in the horror genre. Pay will be determined based on experience. Please email us a recent writing sample.
Here is how I might respond to such a lead:
Dear Joe Producer;
I recently saw your post looking for a screenwriter on Mandy.com and I thought I might be a good fit for what you’re looking for. I am an award winning screenwriter with numerous produced credits and I recently wrote a psychological thriller script, SILENCE OF THE TURKEYS, which I am attaching to this email as a writing sample. I hope you enjoy reading it.
To learn more about my writing credits you can find me on IMDb here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0583488/
Thank you for your time and I look forward to learning more about this project.
Ashley Scott Meyers
Notice how I address the ad directly.
The first thing I do is reference the place that I saw the ad. That will help the producer figure out where you’re coming from. Many production companies will only take submissions at certain times, so you want to be clear that you saw a recent ad and are responding directly to it.
I mention that my screenplay is a “psychological thriller” which is exactly what they’re looking for. I might even fudge this a little bit. For instance, if they were looking for a “mystery thriller” I might call my screenplay a “mystery thriller.” Obviously it has to fit, at least somewhat, but the point is I want them to know that I have what they’re looking for.
They’re looking for experienced writers so I make sure that I mention that in the query letter as well. (Tip: If you don’t have experience, get some. Write a short film and produce it yourself. Then you’ll be “experienced” too.)
If you have any experience adapting novels to screenplays (I don’t) then you should mention that. That would be great experience to have in this instance. But really any writing experience that is pertinent is worth mentioning.
The bottom line is you want to really show the producer that you read their ad and you are a good fit for the project they’re working on. You want to be concise and to the point but also highlight the reasons you would be a good fit for this job.
Compare my response to the short responses above it (i.e. “Is this real?”) and put yourself in the shoes of a producer who has a hundred emails in their inbox. Which onee would you delete without even responding to?