I get a lot of emails from people who live outside the United States asking how they can break into Hollywood. I usually send them to this post: Breaking in to Hollywood from outside the United States. Check it out if you haven’t read it yet and are trying to break into Hollywood from outside of the Unites States. In that post one of the things I recommend is that people network with their local film community and try to break in there before they try and break into Hollywood. The main consideration for this advice is that from the emails I receive I can tell that English is a second language. I’m not trying to discourage anyone or destroy anyone’s dreams, but I don’t think a person will have a lot of success sending out poorly written query letters. I do a lot of cold query letters both for myself and through my query letter submission service and I can tell you that even an extremely well written query letter receives, at best, only a handful of script requests. So a query letter in broken English is going to receive virtually none. So my point is that if you network with local film makers the language issue isn’t an issue at all because they will speak your language.
In some cases after I’ve sent out the above mentioned link I’ve gotten responses like this: “Thank you for the advice but my country doesn’t have an active film community.” Or “The local film community is a closed group and it’s impossible to break in.” Or “My country’s film community isn’t a serious bunch and the films they make aren’t like what I’m trying to write.”
Here’s the thing, it may not be easy to break into your local film community but it’s not easy to break into Hollywood either. And while I don’t know how hard it is to break into every film community world wide, I do know how hard it is to break into Hollywood, and I can tell you, even if your English is perfect your chances are slim to none, so if your English isn’t perfect, your chances are even less.
I think the main problem people are having is that they’re not finding it easy to break into their local film communities and they don’t know what else to do. I think for most of these people the answer is simple: quit. There is no shame in this. Breaking into the film industry, no matter what country you’re in, isn’t easy. It might simply not be worth the effort to you. Again, that’s perfectly understandable and there is no shame in this. There are plenty of other fulfilling things in life that are a hell of a lot easier.
But if you really want to make it in the film industry dig in and don’t take no for an answer. Sending query letters to a marginally successful screenwriter who runs a screenwriting blog (i.e. me) isn’t going to get you very far, though. You need to make some real effort in networking and getting your screenplays out to real producers who actually might produce your material. This is exactly what my blog is about. Start with this post: How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell).
I feel like a lot of the people who email me think I have some sort of secret to selling screenplays and that I’m holding back information. I’m not. I promise. Here are my IMDB credits: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0583488/. And to find out how I’ve sold these screenplays simply read my blog. I explain everything I know how to do as far as selling screenplays right here on the blog. And there isn’t anything I’ve done that you yourself can’t do. I don’t have some special secret that I’m not telling anyone. If you’re willing to do the work you can sell a few screenplays, just like I’ve done. I don’t even consider myself an especially great writer. I’m just diligent, persistent and I work really hard at it.
But be honest with yourself. If you’re not willing to do the work, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Spend your life doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling to you.
Now with that said, I think there is some potential value in trying to sling query letters from the far corners of the globe to Hollywood producers. In my experience with marketing the key is to try lots of things and see what sticks. So from that stand point, I think there is some value in sending a bunch of query letters to Hollywood producers even if your English isn’t very good (again, check out this post for details about how to do that: How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell)). But realize that you’re probably not going to see much in the way of results. Hopefully the lack of results will inspire you to continue to try and find local opportunities.
My feeling is that if you push as hard as you can in all directions trying to get your screenplays read, optioned, and ultimately produced, you’ll have the most luck with people who speak your native language, which is why I recommend that you spend most of your effort pushing in that direction.