Advice That Gets You Agents & Sales

Category: ideas for movies

Screenwriting tip of the day; Send your script to –who now?


Screenwriter Michael Elliot built a career on sending his screenplays — not to studios or producers — but to Hollywood professionals on their way up. This is a smart and radical play, but it worked for him.  He sent his scripts to people in town who were dying to read a good script, so they could star in it, direct it, represent it, or produce it themselves.

  1. “Older” Academy Award winning actors, they’re still looking for great parts, and they still have the contacts and are bankable.
  2. Cinematographers, or Directors of Photography, who are dying to direct. They have the contacts, and need a great screenplay to make their move.
  3. First AD’s (Assistant Directors), for the same reason. No first AD wants to stay in that position the rest of their careers. Your script can make their dreams come true.
  4. Music Video Directors.  Elliot gives examples, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Brett Ratner.  Again, they’re talented, connected, and they need your script.
  5. Commercial Directors. Examples;  Ridley Scott, Michael Bay.  Studios like them because they can create an emotional connection in 30 seconds.
  6. Production Managers. They all want to be producers. Take advantage of other people’s ambitions. They’re hungry.
  7. Casting Directors. Like everyone in town, they want to produce. They work with stars, they have access. They need your material to change their careers.
  8. Produced Screenwriters. They want to produce or direct, too — and obviously have the contacts at the studios. They have credibility. Studios know they’ll get the script in shape.
  9. Tomorrow’s Agents and Managers. The Assistants are always looking for their own clients to represent when they get their break, and move up. If they love your script, it may make the difference for them.

The tricky part then, is how to get your script to these people?  You need their address, or office address.  Google Oscar winning actors by name.  Especially if they seem right for your part.  It better be one hell of a part, too.

Same with many of these other categories. Google Casting Directors. There are Hollywood Directories for many of these people, too.  Check Amazon.  Buy the directories. Go to bookstores and copy the pages if you can’t afford them.  Get the addresses, be creative. You know someone who knows someone. And make sure your scripts are awesome.


This is a summary of Michael Elliot’s article on the subject. To read his article in full, click here.




Where Do Great Film Story Ideas Come From?

David SilvermanHow do you come up with your screenplay story ideas?  For me, some of the best ideas have come from reading non-fiction. For example, I was reading a psychology text about agoraphobia, which is a fear of open spaces, crowds, and it often keeps people housebound, afraid to go outside.

I was thinking about some films I’d seen in which a police officer teams up with an unlikely partner to solve a crime. For example in 48 Hours, an officer is allowed to free a prisoner (played by Eddie Murphy) for 48 hours to help him solve a crime. The script make for a suspenseful, yet comic thriller.

I was looking for something in that genre, when I hit on the idea of a highly anxious agoraphobic who finally works up the courage to cross the street and take a walk in the park. He has a breakthrough, and makes it to the park only to witness a mob hit.

The hitman gets a good look at him before escaping. I decided to pair him up with a fearless, and freewheeling female cop to solve this murder. The big twist then, was that now the mobsters knew where he lived, he was no longer safe at home.

Together, he and this fearless female cop have to run around town, together, she protecting him, while solving the crime. The whole time they are just one step ahead of the killers. The agoraphobic (picture a young Woody Allen) has to overcome his fears in the process.

So there’s an example, reading about this psychological condition. I was able to sell the story to a big production company.

Where else to writers turn for help in crafting their stories? Here are some quotes from some very famous writers:

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself. ~ Jack Kerouac

I write out of my intellectual experience. ~ Tom Stoppard

You write about what you know. ~ Larry David

And if you don’t live, you have nothing to write about. ~ James Maynard Keenan

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin

Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader. ~ Joseph Joubert

I write books to find out about things. ~ Rebecca West

Writing a story … is simply an exploration of the nature of behavior: why people do what they do, how it affects others, how we change and grow, and what decisions we make along the way. ~ Lois Lowry

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. ~ Joan Didion

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~ Toni Morrison

Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come the most unsought for are commonly the most valuable. ~ Francis Bacon

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. ~ Neil Gaiman

I dare you all to write one more thing that you won’t say to my face. ~ Marilyn Manson

Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone. ~ Emile M. Cioran

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. ~ Cyril Connolly

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin

Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader. ~ Joseph Joubert

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself. ~ Jack Kerouac

Usually, I walk and think about things. When I come across a thought that makes me laugh, I write it down. ~Demetri Martin

I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze. ~ D. H. Lawrence

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. ~ Ray Bradbury

And by the way, everything in life is writable about, if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~ Sylvia Plath

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