This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 037: Pitching Your Screenplay With Jaime Primak Sullivan.
Welcome to Episode 37 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyer, screen writer and blogger over at sellingyourscreenplay.com.
In this episode’s main segment, I’m going to be interviewing Jamie Primak Sullivan. She’s the star of the reality show Jersey Belle on the Bravo channel. She’s been a publicist for years. Recently she’s got several projects off the ground just by pitching. So she’s got lots of great tips for how to craft your pitch and her tips can be applied to lots of things like writing your logo and query letter. So it’s not just pitching in person over the phone although that’s what she’s done. The interview is packed with lots of real actual advice to help you sell your screenplay so stay tuned for that.
If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving a comment on Youtube, or re-twitting the podcast on Twitter or liking it on Facebook. This social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast.
I’d like to thank Stanford Crain and John Kellmer who left me with some nice comments over on Youtube. Thank you guys for those. I’d like to thank Vivi Anna, Martian Thomas, Clint Williams, Final Fenway Fickson [?], Jay Jay Hillard and Marty Wolf who all re-twitted the last week’s podcast episode. I’d like to thank the folks who have liked our Facebook page which is at facebook.com/sellingyourscreenplay. Thanks, Benjamin Meyer, Rushanus Klein[?], Michael Marlowe, Jet Carrie Malon[?], Max Orcus and Becky Hartcoff who all liked the last week’s episode on Facebook. I’m sorry if I’m missing some people. Facebook doesn’t seem to always show the names of the people who liked the post, so really thanks to everyone who liked the last week’s episode on Facebook. It really is very much appreciated.
A couple of quick notes, any websites or links that I mentioned in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You’ll find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and just look for Episode 37.
Also, if you want my free guide on how to sell your screenplay in five weeks you can pick that up by going to selling your screenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for 5 weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional logo and query letter. How to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. It really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
A quick few words about what I’m working on. I’m actually sending out my sci-fi thriller this week. I posted it on the Blacklist a couple of weeks ago and got those reviews back. I paid for 2 reads and got a 5 from 1 and a 6 from another. Both readers seem reasonably complementary and didn’t really offer much in terms of criticisms so I’m really not sure what to make of the scores. Some of the notes have gotten back from the Blacklist readers on other scripts. It definitely felt like the readers hadn’t really read the script or if they had they read it very very quickly. But with these two, it definitely seem too clearly that they read the script and did understand it. They seem to really get it and they seem pretty complementary about it. So, you know, they gave me average scores but uhm seem pretty positive overall.
Anyway, the email and fax blast is literally going out as I record this podcast so, we’ll see how that turns out. I emailed all my contacts with the pitch too and I’ve gotten some people reading it already from that. I also pitch the script over the phone to a producer I’ve been working with on another project and he seem to like the pitch so I’ve sent it over to him as well. So, anyways, wish me luck with the email and fax blast. At least for me that seems to be the best way to get my scripts out there.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m gonna be talking with Jamie Primak Sullivan who, as you’ll see from the interview, is an absolute expert at pitching. Here is the interview:
Ashley: Welcome Jamie to the Selling your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Jamie: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate being here.
Ashley: So I wonder if, to start out, you can give us some quick overview of your career and kind of how you ended up in the entertainment industry.
Jamie: Well, I started as a teenager in New Jersey. I saw that there was a niche in marketing night clubs and restaurants to the Bridge and Tunnel crowd. Night clubs in Manhattan and restaurants there were doing a great job of getting the word out in Manhattan but they weren’t really marketing to Bridge and Tunnel. And because those businesses are circular [?] and may depend on Bridge and Tunnel, you know, in the third quarter they really come in and keep the numbers up, I thought “what a great niche for me”. And because I was underage, I worked out a deal where, if I promoted their night club and restaurant to Bridge and Tunnel, they would let me and my friends come in on the weekends and party. So it worked out for everybody. It was great! And then, I realized very quickly that I have a niche for that. So, that’s sort of where Bridge and Tunnel entertainment was born.
Ashley: Okay. And then how did you segment into, you know, ultimate getting your own reality show? You had mentioned selling some scripts. So how did you get into screen writing and selling a script?
Jamie: I’ve always been a story teller. I just never knew the process to put it on paper. So in regards to the scripts, basically what happened was because I was an entertainment publicist I was dealing with my clients’ agents from all the time. And one day I asked a brilliant agent by the name of Joanne Wiles of ICM; a veteran in the industry, she’s been doing this 20+ years. I asked her “Hey Jo, I have this idea for a horror movie, what should I do?” and she said “Well if you don’t know how to write a script write a great treatment and I said “what’s a treatment?” and she said “tell me the story.. give me the big piece”.
So I was the girl, you know, reading Save The Cat, looking at the BeeGees, trying to trying to teach myself sort of what the process was because I had no idea. But I knew that the concept for Fear Followers which is the first project I sold, was commercial. Like Look I know what commercial concepts are because I work with them on a daily basis.
So I taught myself pretty much what a treatment was and then I wrote one, and then I was the girl who thought that I had written, you know, the Steven Spielberg of all treatments. Like this is epic, right? And I sent it to Jo and said “would you take a look at this?” and she wrote me back and was like “this is garbage”. And I was like “It’s garbage? What do you mean?”.. “it’s garbage.. there’s no.. like one big one on sentence.. it‘s not scary..” and I was like “Oh!” and it was a humbling experience for me because you come out of the game thinking “I have this tool, so certainly, you know, I can build it”. But you can’t because you need structure in screenwrite and I don’t do well with structure. Even in the treatment you need structure. And so I went back to the book… back to the grave.. I read Story by Robert Mckee, which took me I feel like 10 years to read but it was food for the soul, really. I learned so much about it. I rewrote the treatment for Fear Followers and Joanne said “well, you’re getting there”. Now we’re closer than we were. And I said “just get me in a room” because I pitch for a living. “Just get me in a room”.
So the first meeting I took was with Jason Blum. So if anybody out there that there is horror. This is when Jason was doing, you know, anything that was anything in horror. And I got in the room with Jason and I pitched him Fear Followers and before I got to the car Joanne called me and said, “He loved it kid, great job!”
And then we sent the treatment and Relativity also loved the concept. So Jason and Tucker from Relativity decided to partner on the project. And then, you know, in true Hollywood fashion things fall through the crack. Sometimes people don’t necessarily agree on the back end, front end, any end. And it ended up at Relativity, both the production side and the studio side. So, we’re getting our final draft of that script now and hopefully we’ll be in production in 2015. And it’s a very exciting thing to me because it’s a very forward thinking concept. And just to see it come from an idea that I had in my shower I go through the process and now.. I’m very excited.
Ashley: So when you went in the pitch though, you had no screenplay at this point? You just had this treatment which you had spent some considerable time with but there was no screenplay to actually show them?
Jamie: Nope. Nothing. I sold it on pitch.
Jamie: But remember, I’ve crafted the art of pitching because I do it every single day, you know. And the best thing about pitching when you get into a room. The number 1 thing is enthusiasm for your own projects.
Pitch it in a mirror. Look at the way.. allow yourself to see the way someone else’s see in your pitch. Because if you’re smiling and you’re enthusiastic and you’re taking them through the twist and turns of the movie.. the way you’re… uh.. the wimbling, the material is gripping, they will feel that. You are sure seating across the table from somebody but it doesn’t mean that you can deliver a pitch. Some people notice that they have nervous factor.. you know, getting in specially without a screenplay because pitching right now in Hollywood… You know my agents first told me, [?], that “Jamie, nobody buys a pitch”.
I had this idea from Jersey Belle and my agents were the ones that were like “we’re not going to sell the meetings because networks don’t buy pitches”. And.. I decided to go around the back door. I found this production company that had John or show which Bravo.. I knew I wanted Jersey Belle to live on Bravo. I knew exactly what the show was, I knew I wanted to be a creative producer of the project and I didn’t think I was asking for very much. So I went to this production company, I set a Skype call with them, I pitched the context and I believed in what I was selling. I made them see what the show was and they loved it. And we shot a great [?] and we took it to Bravo and Bravo fell inlove with it and you know he had still the niche through the network that it still is the exact niche I knew it would. For the people who had enough of maybe the drama and the fighting at tremendously successful real housewife-trend charts has provided for 10+ years. And it’s not replacing anything. It’s like the step sister, like kinda comes in and fits right in.
And then, you know, I think the key to pitching too, honestly, is research. Do the research because with Fear Followers, pitching Jason made sense because it was a micro-budget horror film. And Jason Blum was, and probably still is right now, the king of micro-budget horror films. So I did my research I knew that he was my best chance at getting sold. If somebody said “I have a micro budget horror film” and your friend says “I had a great relationship at Disney”, don’t take the pitch. It doesn’t fit. It’s not gonna work. Do the research and if you’re good at pitch especially without a screenplay make sure that you are pitching your exact target buying parties.
Ashley: Let’s take back a second, you just made a comment that you set up a Skype chat with these guys to pitch your TV show, and gonna be listening to this are nowhere near us connected, but I wonder if you could just tell us, how did you set up that Skype call? Because Skype is kind of 2 levels, there’s the pitch which obviously is very important but there’s also being actually getting in to the point where you can pitch. And I wonder if you can give us or tell us how you did that and maybe give us some suggestions for people that, you know, that are not in the industry. How can they get into getting an actual pitch with somebody’s people?
Jaimie: Okay, so we’ll use Jersey Belle as an example, right? I knew that it was going to be a singular read show. Meaning not an ensemble and I knew I wanted it to live on Bravo. So what I did was, let’s say I had no connections in Hollywood. What I did was I looked at Bravo’s programming and I looked at what other shows they had that was singular read. And then what of those shows had the most successful run. So what I came out with was Flipping Out with Jeff Lewis.
Flipping out is in its 7th season. Jeff Lewis is the star of that show. He has a small supporting cast but he’s the star and I said “Let me see who’s producing this show for Bravo..” Because that helped me to get exactly what I’m trying to do, I may have the relationship with the network I want to be on. I did some research tracked down Authentic and found out who the head of casting was. Because they need his way the same way that Bravo needs his way. So Authentic, their hope is that people with great ideas track them down and find them because they need projects. So, I found out who the head of casting was at Authentic, and I got this information, you know, you can get people’s information from IMDB or who represents whatever it is. I got his information and I emailed him and I have this very succinct to the point now this is my name, this is who I am, this is what I do where I live this is the show I want to pitch, here’s the title the Jersey family in [?]. He wrote back. It actually does sound very interesting to me. And I knew that the character of Jersey Belle was gonna be everything. So, I knew he would have to see my energy. So I said “I think a Skype call is best” he said “I agree” we set it up the next day we spent 30 minutes on a Skype call and then he was sold. And then he sold it, you know, to his bosses and said this girl we could do this.
So for me it’s all about what makes the most sense to your project. Do we all want to make movies for Steven Spielberg? Yes, but it’s just not realistic. So find the people in the tier, that is realistic for your project, and see if they have a head of development or a head of casting. And be very succinct, you only make one chance to make a good first impression of your pitch. So make sure you have a log line that works and test it out to everyone you know. Not your friend because your friend is going to tell you that’s the best log line they’ve ever known. Not to your mother but peers, colleagues, writing blogs, groups online, people of the supermarket. Literally say “would you pay money to see a movie if this was the log line”, “does this make you watch real more”.
Ashley: Uhm-hm. I’m curious, you keep saying you keep mentioning the head of casting I can see that making sense for a reality show. But if you’re pitching a fiction screenplay it would be more like the head of development or something, correct me if I’m wrong.
Jamie: Yes. The problem is a lot of studio won’t take pitches without an agent. See, I was lucky enough to have an agent. The number question I get asked is what do I do if I don’t have an agent. And I, the project I’m working on now for television is called Breaking and Entering and it provides people with tremendous success; an opportunity to tell their story on how they turn Nos to Yesses. So, I’ll give you one of mine. Let’s say I want to make a film of New Line. And Dave Neustadter is the guy, right? That’s the guy, the head of development. That’s the guy you got to get in the room with. Do some research, go on LinkedIn, go on Facebook.. any mutual friend? Anyone that you can reach out to and say “Hey I see that you’re a third tier connection in LinkedIn with Dave Neustadter of New Line and I have a project that I know is going to be perfect for New Line. But be prepared to say why you think it’s perfect for New Line. Don’t just say because you love Freddy Krueger in the 80s, and your project is just like Nightmare in the Ocean, because guess what? Dave Neustadter is just like not even a thought, he was a toddler when that came out. So do your research. And once you do that, find somebody who knows that you can, and come up completely empty handed. Then, you can get his email address and you can send him an email that says:
I don’t have an agent but I do have a project perfect for New Line and here’s why: In the last 5 years you made this movie, this movie and this movie.. all in the same vain as what I am pitching you.. those movies have made this much, this much and this much.. (so go back this way) and I believe that this movie with my amazing love line is going to be the 4th movie in that year of what you’re trying to do..I think the budget would be this…
I mean, answer every question he could possibly had because what he may do is say “You know what.. you could be on to something. So what I’m going to do is loop you in with an agent friend that I have at CAA or ICM or William Morris and I’m going to let them read it. And if they think it is what you say it is, then let’s set a meeting”.
Because I know these guys. I worked with them. And they want good material, they want original good material. So, yes, obviously, the easier path is to have an agent but sometimes it’s harder to get an agent than it is to get a meeting with an executive of a studio.
Ashley: Uhm-hmm. For sure. So when you were pitching, I mean, what you just described, there’s going to be a lot of rejection in there where the guy doesn’t respond or doesn’t like your pitch. I wonder, did you pitch this to different companies or you honed in on the one company that you felt was an exact match for this and did they liked your pitch, you didn’t have to take it anywhere else?
Jamie: Well, I pitched Fear Followers to Jason Blum at Blum house and they loved it. And the only other place I pitched it was Relativity. And because Relativity can also be a studio, not just production company, it made sense to them to partner with Jason and produce it and let them service the studio when Jason backed out because they couldn’t make the whatever deal they would want to make. Relativity said, “No, we love it! We’re going to stay o, we’ll produce it and build the studio. So I got very lucky there. Before We Do which has a R-rated comedy; the log line for Before We Do is I’m going to tell it to people because I feel like it is exactly what you want in a log line. The log line; first of all let’s look at the title of Before We Do. I feel like the title tells you pretty much what you’re getting. Right?. The word “I do” represents what?
Ashley: Yeah. Marriage.
Jaime: So Before We Do, we due to believe that this is some sort of writings something, right? Umm.. And I also look at international; who would translate internationally Before We Do. Yes! People say “I do” all over the world. The log line for Before We Do is an engaged couple take separate road trip across the country the week before their wedding to fulfill their pre-wedding bucket list. If they tell you exactly what it is, you’ll know what you’re getting. It’s succinct. It’s to the point. It tells you exactly what the movie is. It doesn’t tell you that there’s a major care chase on page 62. You know what I mean? Like having people who over saturate their log lines, you don’t need to do that. You just need to give the executive big picture.
So If I were sending an email to you and you Ashley Meyers was the executive of Warner Bros. and I’d say “ Hey Ashley, I have a great movie called Before We Do. Big commercial concept; people get married all over the world. And the #1 thing people can relate to about weddings is the anxiety before the wedding. It’s a universal feeling. Here’s the log line: An engaged couple take separate trips across the country a week before their wedding to fulfill their pre-wedding bucket list. The only other thing I want you to know, Ashley, is that there is no infidelity because Middle America does not want to spend $50 on a movie ticket to watch two people that we’ve just convinced should be married, now cheating on each other.
Ashley: And that was actually my first thought! So there you are answering my questions.
Jaime: Well that was my first thought, too as a publicist. I want to promote a film about two people we’ve convinced an audience they should be rooting for who are now out cheating on each other. No and no! So there it is, you’re the executive and you go “Hey! You know what, we’re looking for a rated R sort of a road trip fun filled comedy. Everybody loves a road trip movie. This sounds like a fresh concept. It’s universal. It will do well domestically and will be great internationally. It’s cast-able. It’s the kind of movie that a director wants to get aboard with. Fairly decent budget. This is the pitch I want to hear. So when I went to Basil I want it get Thunder Road and said “you know, you had just come off of the success of the town. I knew he knew how to make a big film. Even though comedy wasn’t necessarily his genre, I know the budgets. He works well. I know the space and the relationships he has with certain directors. So I reached out and said: “Can I get a..”, you know me and my agent, we did the right way, “Can we get a room?”. And Thunder Road said yes. And then it happened to be serendipity that Basil’s from free home New Jersey which I am also from free home New Jersey so we knew a lot of the same people. And I think that did play a card in him to believing. Well, he loved the project and took it on. So, that was that pitch.
Ashley: Perfect! I just want to back up just a second. You’ve given us some great tips for like the query letter and all that information, some great tips on the log line. Tell us specifically, what was in your bio pitch when you were sending your script out. You said you had a “this is who I am”. Tell us what was in your bio and then give us some general tips for people that maybe don’t have the same impeccable credentials that you have. What can they put in their bio?
Jamie: I’m going to be completely honest with you. I don’t think that anybody gives a shit about the bio. I think it comes down to, is thisa commercial concept? Is the title market involve? Can I see the trailer from this film through your log line? At the end of the day they’re getting an executive of a studio gets anywhere from I would say probably 300 to 400 emails a day. Most internal, then from there I would take probably from agent’s managers. And then from there I would take, you know, 5% is from people trying to get meetings, right? They don’t care that you wrote for your school newspaper and you published something in a magazine. They don’t care! Because at the end of the day if you haven’t made a movie, it doesn’t matter to them. What get to the point? My bio had absolutely nothing to do with me selling Fear Followers to Relativity.
Ashley: You don’t think that having an agent in CA. You don’t think that coerces just it a little bit.
Jaime: But see that’s not in my bio. Because it’s the CAA that made the calls. So yes, they knew that I had an agent in CAA but my bio… basically…
Ashley: I guess for Jersey Belle, I was saying for Jersey Belle you went outside of your agent so that might have been mentioned in your bio sectioned for Jersey Belle.
Jaime: Not even then I didn’t send the bio. But even then I got right to the point. Here’s the show I want to do. It’s called Jersey Belle. Here’s the niche I think it fits. Here’s the network that I think fits on. Here is the concept for the show. Here is the log line. Do you think it works. It was very succinct because I have word and it’s a humbling lesson to learn bacause you want to sell yourself. But the truth is they don’t care. They don’t care if the next big launchee rated R comedy comes from uhm.. what’s his name.. Jabba Appatown [?] or from uhmm.. the super super funny chick that was in the Bridesmaid who everyone tells me I look like and now I can’t think of her name. I can see her face but I can’t think of her name but you know who I’m talking about, the girl who wrote and who starred in Bridesmaids. Yeah I know you’re having a brain fart too. We lost this game.
They don’t care where the material comes from. They want it to be what they are looking. Your job is to in the most effective way, present your material in the most commercial way possible. Tell them how it’s going to make them money. That is what it boils down to.
The last project that I’m into, I can’t tell you too many details because we are still in the closing stage so people would kill me. But I can tell you how the pitch went down. I had a thriller with the African American female lead which I think is a huge underserved market. So that’s another thing. Do you have a commercial idea that could easily be test with a minority? Because if you do you should really think about that because it’s underserved market and the minorities have proven time and time again that they will show up and support films; that star minority leads. So with that being said, this project was written for a strong female lead who happens to be African-American. So I said, ‘who in film right now is making, is killing it in the minority space”. If Will Packer doesn’t immediately come in to your mind then you have not done your research on production companies because Will Packer is killing it. So, I went to Will and said here’s the film. Here’s who I see as the lead; these 3 actresses; this is what the title is; this is what the film is; this is what I see as the budget; and Will said, “You nailed it. Let’s do it.”
So this is really…but again I did my research. You know I didn’t go to Dave Neustadter of New Line because even though Will could not …Will could go to New Line with the project, Dave is not going to buy that pitch for me. You know what I mean, it just doesn’t make sense. The other thing is, in this day and age what studios are looking for is who can produce this for us. A lot of people have deals; you know lot of producers have personal deals with studios. I think a lot of times the best way to actually get your project sold is to go through the production company the way that I did for Jersey Belle; the way that I did for Fear Followers; the way I did for Thunder Road and now for this last project. I found a producer who could get the project made and let them come in to the studio with me. Because the truth be told Jon Mone at Universal doesn’t care what Jaime is doing but he does care what somebody like Craig Perry who produced all the American Pie movies for Universal and made them over a billion dollars, is doing. So I am now, right now just partnered with Craig Perry on the film. Like I said, Craig produced all the American Pie films and all the Final Destination films with New Line. So, you walk in the Universal with Craig Perry who made them a billion dollar; over a billion dollars; they’re going to listen. “Ok, Craig what have you got?”.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So let’s talk about Jersey Belle for a minute. Just give us your two minute pitch on that and then tell us how people can watch it and see it.
Jaime: I’d love that! Ok thank you!
Ashley: Sure! You go ahead.
Jaime: Jersey Belle is a fish out of water story about a New Jersey native who happens to be a Hollywood publicist who moves to Mount of.. to Birmingham, Alabama for love. And tries to fit in, in one of the most elite; you know proper parts of the country in a way that only a Jersey girl could. You can watch it on Bravo Monday nights at 10:00 Eastern, 9 Central. And it’s the first comedy that Bravo’s ever done. It’s a lot of fun. It has a lot of heart and you know if you‘ve ever been the person that felt like you didn’t fit in somewhere, then this show is for you.
Ashley: And just so people would understand that it’s you that is playing; it’s you it’s a reality show and it’s about you.
Jaime: Ok, it’s me! I am the Jersey maiden who happens to be a Hollywood publicist to move to Birmingham, Alabama for love. Funny!
Ashley: Yeah yeah! Ok great! I’ll definitely link to that too on the Show Note so people can go over and find it on the Bravo website.
One of the questions that just occurred to was, in this process uhmm.. are you now writing the scripts like you said, originally you just came in as treatment? Have you evolved so now you’re writing the scripts; you’re not just coming up with the treatment and the pitches. You’re actually writing the full scripts that went well.
Jaime: Well, I did not write the scripts for Fear Followers, they bought the treatment and made me a co-producer and hire a horror writer to write the script and truth be told me that this is the best move for a million reasons and certainly I did not have the time at that time to write.
Uhm writers are amazing to me, they commit everything they have to writing every single day and I have business to run and don’t have the luxury right now. I did write the script for Before We Do with a writing partner in New York. So we are the writers on that script. This last project with Will Packer, I did not write the script. I wrote the treatment which was a great treatment. And we have hired a great thriller writer who knows the ins and outs of its twists and turns that this movie needs that right now, again; I don’t have the time to dedicate to. The next project that I’m doing with Craig Perry which is another comedy, I do umm… I am writing that script.
Ashley: Ok, perfect! I just was curious. Uhmm..what‘s the best way for people to keep up with you? Are you on Twitter? You can give us your Twitter handler and they can find you.
Jaime: I’m at @jaimeprimak on Twitter, I’m on Facebook @jaimeprimaksullivan.
Ashley: Perfect! And I’ll get those links from you and I’ll put them on the Show Note so people can click right over. So, well you’ve been very generous with your time. I really appreciate. This has been very informative. I got a script finished and I’m going to start sending it out next week and some of the things you just said have got me thinking about my query letter and how I’m going to pitch that. I know I have learned some things so I think a lot of people would get a lot out of this.
Jaime: Hire anagent. We search production companies that will actually make your movie.
Ashley: Good Advice! Good Advice!I really appreciate your coming on. We’ll talk to you later.
Jaime: Ok, thanks so much Ashley.
[End of the interview]
I mentioned in the last episode that I was going to run a full one year intensive screen writing workshop. There are only a couple of spots left as I record this episode. So, if you like to learn more about that, check out sellingyourscreenplay.com/gold.
The first part of this one year class is actually the next class that I’ll be teaching which is all but choosing a marketable concept. I’m going to be running an entire series of classes that will guide you to through the entire screen writing process from choosing a marketable concept all the way through writing your third act.
So if you want to participate, check out sellingyourscreenplay.com/classes. You can buy just the class, just the one single class and of course you can follow along. If you’re diligent this really is a great way to follow along with the premium program and in six months you’ll end up with a polished and hopefully solid screen play. The class will be on Saturday, September 27th, at 10 am Pacific Time. So again check out the sellingyourscreenplay.com/classes to learn more about that.
In the net episode of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing a legendary film director, Brian Trenchard Smith. Check out his credits on IMDb if you’re not familiar with his work. He’s got about 50-feature film directing credits and we talk about his latest film, Drive Hard, starring John Cusack. So keep an eye out for that in the next episode.
So I just wanted to quickly touch on some of the things that Jaime said in the interview. I’ve been writing query letter for a long time and I think I’m pretty good at it, essential everything that Soul has been through a query letter. But I got some great tips from her, hopefully you did too. Some of the things I just wanna highlight are:
First, the importance of the title. Blake Snyder of Save the Cat talks about this but it’s really such an important part of your pitch. So many writers wasted with something that really doesn’t add to the presentation. So, really take some time to think about your title and make sure that it really adds to your log line and your overall presentation.
I really respect how much research she does on to all the companies she’s pitching. If you’re gonna do personalized pitches like what’s she’s been doing, you really got to do the research. A touch on this more in a moment.
I really like her suggestion to position her film like it’s other successful films. This is definitely something you should be doing. And iif you can back it up with some quick box-office number that’s a great help too. Hopefully understanding the marketplace and will your project fits in to the marketplace is something you’ve done before you’ve even written your script. I’ll actually go into this quite a bit in a class I’ll be teaching on the 27th.
I really like her tip about telling people how cast-able certain roles are. As I mentioned earlier in the show, I’m actually doing a blast writing now and I incorporated this tip into my query letter. I’ve seen other writers do it and I’ve even done it myself. For some reason I forgotten to do this with this current query letter. There’s a great role for a 30 something woman in this current script and there’s always a real surge of roles for women. So I decided to really highlight this in my query letter. I have a decent number of credits so that’s usually half of my query letter. But I think she’s basically right. The bio isn’t really all that important. I didn’t remove my bio completely but I did shorten it down a great deal. Ultimately, they wanna know what the story is about, and if you really have a great pitch, your bio isn’t gonna be nearly as important as you might think. In some ways, this is about showing not telling. You won’t have to tell them that you were rep by CAA for them to know that you know what you’re doing. Give them an excellent pitch and they’ll know you know what you’re doing. Really all you’re trying to do with your bio is to establish credibility and in some way, if your pitch is good enough, it will speak for itself.
One thing I would like to point out is that her approach is definitely very different from mine. My email and fax blast serve as an end and that’s what I’ve been using to promote my script. Is really a very much shot gun approach. I’m sending out literally thousands of query letters. While she’s raised her focus doing her research and really honing her pitch for people that’s exactly right for her.
I don’t think there’s really a right answer here or wrong way or right way to do this. Think about your own personality and what will match best with it. I should probably try and do some more focused pitches like what she’s discussed in this interview and add that into my marketing routine. If I have time I probably will. I’d be curious to see how much tracks I get with this sort of approach. Maybe in the next couple of weeks or months I will give it a try.
Anyway, that’s the show. Thanks for listening.
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