I got this question recently:
“My wife and I just recently started writing Horror screenplays, which we both enjoy. In August we are attending a Horror convention, where there will be a-few actors/actress, who we always had in mind for certain parts when writing a script. Should we approach them about this and let them know?… Should we take our script with us, and offer it to them to read over?
We’re really not sure if we should say anything to them, since we’re new to all this, and we don’t have an agent/manager/representation. So any advice would be most grateful.”
I love people who want to take the bull by the horns and do some producing on their scripts themselves and aren’t just going to sit back and wait for things to come to them. So I commend you for trying to move your projects forward yourself.
There is really no right or wrong answer to this question. I’ve known a lot of people who have tried this and in some rare cases it’s actually worked. I knew a guy once who was a limo driver and one night Patrick Swayze and his agent got into his limo. He had a script with a part in it that Swayze was right for and he was a good enough talker that he was actually able to get a meeting with them. I had another friend who worked in radio and one day Jerry Bruckheimer was being interviewed at the radio station so my friend went up to him and pitched him a comedy script that we had written together. Bruckheimer pretty much ignored my friend and my friend’s boss reprimanded him for doing it. So it can go either way.
The answer really lies in how good of a salesman you are. I truly believe that salesmanship is the greatest skill to have as a screenwriter, trumping even writing ability. If you can confidently approach these actors and actresses and pitch your material to them you might find something good comes out of it. On the other hand if you approach these actors and actresses and stumble over your words and appear like an unprofessional drooling fan it could get ugly. My feeling is that most of the cult horror actors and actresses that appear at these sorts of events probably are just working stiffs like the rest of us and if you have a good script they’d be happy to read it. But again, it’s going to come down to your pitch.
There are a couple of things to think about before you approach anyone (and probably incorporate into your pitch). Are you going to produce the project yourself? By approaching talent you’re already doing some producing, so the question is how far are you going to take this project? Do you have any money lined up to get this project off the ground (having money in place will garner some interest even if the script is weak)? What are you going to do if the actors/actress says “sure” I’ll do your movie?
Ideally what you’d like to get is a signed letter of intent from a bankable name actor/actress in your genre. With that you can then try approaching producers with your star attached to your script.
Also, read my post Should I find actors whom I think would be a good match for my movie and contact their agents? It applies to actors who you might want attached to your project but have no way of actually contacting but also answers in more depth the specifics of getting an actor attached.