I got this email recently:
I read your How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell) post, then sent out three (email) queries, and got a response from a major production company, asking me to forward the script. I did, and received an email from the head of that company, asking me to send him a pdf version so he could “show it to a director.” I did, and now am waiting for feedback from “the director.” Do I need an agent? I’m a lawyer-turned-college English professor, and really have zero experience with “the biz” – just wrote a script on a lark one summer – between semesters. What do I do NOW? I was expecting the classic “four out of 100” query response rate – so wasn’t expecting to have to think about how to negotiate with or even interact with a “big name” producer – until after AT LEAST 97 more queries. 😉
That’s certainly an impressive response rate – 33%!!! I’ve never heard of one that’s better than that. My inclination is to keep sending it out while you’re waiting for the director to get back to you. If your query letter and script really are strong (which it sounds like they are) then you might as well keep sending it out and try and find the best deal you can. Most importantly, though, keep writing. Start writing another script today, not tomorrow, not this weekend, immediately, right after you get done reading this email. I’m not kidding. The best thing you can do for your writing career is to keep writing. Keep in mind, even if the director loves your script and even if the “name” producer options it from you that doesn’t mean your script will ever get made. The best producers in the business are working on lots of projects and only a small percentage of them will ever make it to production. So as a writer that means you too must have lots of different projects going in order to get one or two into production. The worst thing you can do is sit back and wait for them to get back to you.
So to re-cap…
#1. Continue to send out your query letter and script (until someone has officially optioned it from you).
#2 Continue to write more scripts.
I’m a big believer in trying to push forward on many different angles so trying to get an agent is probably a fine idea. The trap that many writers fall into, and why I wrote this post “How do you get an agent for your screenplay? (And why you don’t need one!)” (https://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/screenwriting-faq/how-do-you-get-an-agent-for-your-screenplay-and-why-you-don%E2%80%99t-need-one/) is that many writers feel like once they have an agent they no longer need to try and sell their own material. That’s not the case at all. In most cases you can and should still be trying to network and sell your scripts yourself even once you have an agent.
The problem you face now is that it’s going to be very hard to get a “good” agent so my inclination would be to wait and see what happens with this production company. But again, if you have the time and want to send out query letters (or cold call agents) it might be worth a shot. But don’t do this instead of sending out more query letters to production companies, do this while you’re sending out query letters to production companies. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t land a top agent and be very weary of low level agents who have never sold a script before. They won’t do you much good.
Specific to this project, if the production company presents you with a contract to option the script find a good entertainment lawyer and pay them their fee. A good entertainment lawyer should be able to help you negotiate a good contract. Just make sure they have experience with screen writing contracts.
Good luck and please let me know as things progress with your project. Hearing stories of how people have used my blog to find success makes me smile.