It’s time to get out there and bypass those gatekeepers! Not literally, of course, you didn’t get into writing to mingle with *tries hard not to vomit* crowds of strangers. You’re going to use the internet to breakthrough!
Bear in mind it’s not about the likes or the number of followers or even the shares on social media – it’s the engagement. You must get engaged and MARRIED to your audience. You need to have heated arguments and then enjoy great makeup posts. You need flings, divorces and rebound followers.
Which platform? ALL OF THEM – plus any new ones as soon as they launch! Facebook, Twitter, Tinder (what?) and Instagram of course. LinkedIn is hot these days, but all the best Hollywood deals are happening on Reddit, although if you can get on a great Discord group you might be lucky enough to chat with people who claim to be famous directors and will ask for your crypto wallet details, so have them handy. You need a blog, of course, and should blog hourly. Some writers have had success pinning their pitches on Pinterest, coming together (ooh, Matron!) on Clubhouse, scripting on Snapchat and drinking wine on WhatsApp. If you work all day via Zoom, get ready to network all night/weekend on it too!
In all, you’ll spend 110% of your time building your social media presence so you won’t have time to write, plus say goodbye to eating and sleeping!
At this point, you should be hosting your scripts everywhere that offers such a service as well as your own website. It is ironic, writers start out on this journey utterly paranoid about someone stealing their ideas and end up throwing their screenplays around like confetti.
The terrifying realisation finally hits home that sitting at home prodding keys is not enough. You need to *gulp* get out there and mingle at film festivals, book fairs, screenwriting events, workshops and hang around outside director’s houses then ‘accidentally’ bump into them and drop your screenplay on their head as they tumble to the ground.
They say life begins at 40 and so do rewrites. You’ve reached this milestone, still not broken through but you’ve learned a lot. You look back at the screenplays you wrote a decade ago and cringe in embarrassment. You make the decision to use the knowledge and experience you’ve gained to rewrite them.
It works! They are marvellous – infinitely better! Encouraged, you re-enter them into competitions, then come crashing down when they fail to reach the same stage the first time you entered and, shock horror, they don’t even break into the top 5% of Coverfly!
PRODUCING YOUR OWN SCREENPLAY
After recovering from the breakdown, you decide to prove to the world your screenplays are great by producing one yourself.
Despite every piece of advice on the internet telling you otherwise, you soon discover shooting on your phone using family/friends as cast & crew results in utter cack.
So, it’s crowdfunding time! This raises £110, £100 of which you donated yourself to get the ball rolling. This forces you to dip into your savings, sell a kidney or a kid until you raise enough money to fund an almost borderline independent production using ‘up & comers’ (people with no experience or straight out of film school) and Z-list actors with serious habits to support.
18 magically weird, wacky, and terrifying months later, the finished product is ready to be released upon the world and submitted to film festivals – although that part would require an entire blog on its own to cover. The end result is in NO WAY how you imagined it would turn out. Some parts you are proud of and almost match the script, others are wild scary tangents that are not aligned to the same reality you exist in – but you’ve done it!
However, the phone still hasn’t rung, Spielberg’s lackeys haven’t invaded your home. You’ve jumped through every hoop, ran through every maze and still, the industry you are trying to break into isn’t even aware of your existence. You’re 49, you promised yourself you would make it before you turned 50. What now?
You’ve written loads of scripts, earned a few competition wins, gone through broken marriages on social media and produced a short film. That is more than enough to get an agent you tell yourself, but you soon find out it’s not, so you are left with no other option but to do it all yourself.
Cold querying is the realisation that “We do not accept unsolicited material or emails” is more of a challenge rather than a statement of fact. If you can figure out how to contact the right person and write a pitch of such sublime magnitude, they might actually respond – and not just with legal threats.
IMDb Pro is a great way to spend money, only to realise most of the people you want to contact either don’t exist on there or don’t include their personal contact information. The trick is to find their name, the name of their company and put them together. So, if big-time producer Mark Renshaw works for FAB Productions, for example, their email is probably firstname.lastname@example.org or a variation. Once you crack it and the email goes through, you feel like an ace hacker with leet skillz even Anonymous would be jealous of.
If you didn’t follow all the advice from Part 1 of this guide, sadly, this is where your journey ends. If you did, the recipient of this email is HOOKED on your logline, enchanted by your skimpy synopsis, and almost slightly impressed with your biography. They ask for the FULL SCRIPT!
6-12 weeks go by. You bite your fingers off in anticipation. An email finally arrives – it’s a pass. Your heart implodes but then you read the email properly several hours later after you’ve dehydrated yourself from crying. They like your writing and ask if you have anything else they can read!
CONGRATULATIONS! You’re 50 – mentally and physically broken, but you’ve made your first connection to the industry you are trying to break into. You need to follow up and make more connections because these people disappear faster than you can say “WTF?” in this business, however you are on your way! With a good wind behind you and illegal drugs, you could make it to 100 so there’s still plenty of time.
Good luck and Godspeed!
Of course, there is a simpler way.
One which bypasses EVERYTHING in this guide.
I’ll share it with you now if you promise not to tell anyone.
Come closer, I’m going to whisper it.
“You need a close family member or friend who works in the industry.”