I get people from all over the World asking me about how they can break into Hollywood from outside of the United States. This article is for those people. If you live in the United States consider yourself lucky, as things are much easier for you.
My main advice to any aspiring screenwriters, no matter where they’re from, is to try and pursue as many different avenues as possible to market their screenplays. Do everything you can.
If you’re outside of Los Angeles, and especially if you’re outside of the United States, I would highly advise that you find local filmmakers and network with them. See if you can find a local director who’s looking for a well written script that can be shot in your hometown. See if you can meet a producer who’s looking for material from an up and coming local writer. In virtually every corner of the globe there are local film communities and this will be your best bet for getting a few credits and starting a career. If you live in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, pack up and move to the closest big city and start networking! There are bound to be other filmmakers there.
It’s not that I don’t recommend this for people in Los Angeles, networking is important no matter where you are, but people outside of Los Angeles tend to overlook potential opportunities right in their own backyard. And these opportunities are going to be much easier to pursue than slinging query letters across the globe.
After local opportunities, my advice changes depending on how good your English is. If you speak English fluently, and I mean without a doubt 100% fluent English, I think you can use all the strategies I outline in my basic screenwriting marketing guide, which you can find here: Selling Your Screenplay (in a nutshell). While I’m a big believer in moving to Los Angeles if you’re serious about being a screenwriter, I think my guide will work for you no matter where in the world you are, assuming your English is fluent.
If you don’t speak English fluently I would say your chances of actually selling a script to Hollywood by sending cold query letters goes from slim to none to virtually non-existent. I’ve read a few query letters from people where English is their second language and I’m very skeptical that they will have any success by submitting these broken English query letters to producers. I’m not trying to bash people who don’t speak English well – they certainly speak English a lot better than I speak their language – but I’m just trying to be honest in my assessment of their chances. Anything can happen in Hollywood so I guess there is always a chance, but I suspect that the cost and time that it takes to send query letters to Hollywood producers is better spent elsewhere if your English is not 100% fluent.
The idea behind networking with local filmmakers is that you can start to build your resume and get some credits in an area where you stand a much greater chance of succeeding. I’m not saying this is your end goal, but if you can get some credits on local film projects, maybe win some awards for your writing, it just adds fodder to your query letter when you do solicit a Hollywood producer, agent, or manager. And if you stick to local opportunities the language issue is not an issue at all, in fact it’s an asset because there are probably fewer people writing screenplays in your native language as there are in English so the competition is less fierce.
In some cases after reading the above advice screenwriters will come back to me with responses like, “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.”
If this is your response to the above advice, please check out this post: Breaking into Hollywood from outside the United States Part 2.
This is Hollywood so anything can happen. I’m sure some day soon there will be a non-English speaking screenwriting prodigy to pound down the Hollywood walls and prove me wrong. I hope that happens and I hope that person is you. So try everything and see what works best for you. But don’t overlook local opportunities.