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By Susan Kouguell · April 30, 2014
How do you capture a film executive’s attention?
Write a brilliant screenplay.
I wrote a brilliant screenplay. Now what?
Gain entry past the film industry gatekeepers. Here’s how…
1. Only submit your screenplay to a company when it has been requested.
2. Research companies producing in your genre and query them.
3. Learn the company’s script submission guidelines and follow them closely.
4. Use up-to-date resource directories. Development executives come and go; someone who is working at a company today may be gone tomorrow or may have a new position and title.
5. Write an attention-grabbing query letter that has the executive’s name and correct spelling. Do not address your query: To Whom It May Concern.
6. Write a scintillating one-page synopsis that accurately reflects your screenplay.
7. Prepare a perfect pitch and practice, practice, practice on friends and relatives to gain confidence and to receive feedback.
8. Write a one-sheet that captures the essence of your screenplay. Only include graphics if it looks professional otherwise let your words do the talking.
9. Network. And Network some more. Attend script conferences and film festivals, and meet industry folks and other writers and filmmakers.
10. Good manners, (seriously) are always appreciated by film executives. Please and thank you can go a long way.
Susan Kouguell, award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, is the author of SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises and THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out!. She is a regular contributor to many publications, including Indiewire/SydneysBuzz, a monthly Ask the Screenplay Doctor column in NewEnglandFilm.com, Screenwriter’s Utopia, and NOW WRITE! Screenwriting: Exercises by Today's Best Screenwriters, Teachers and Consultants. Kouguell teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University, and presents international seminars. As chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990, Kouguell works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, executives and studios worldwide. Her six short films are in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and archives, and were included in the Whitney Museum’s Biennial. Kouguell worked with director Louis Malle on his film And the Pursuit of Happiness, was a story analyst and story editor for many studios, wrote voice-over narrations for (Harvey Weinstein) Miramax and over a dozen feature assignments for independent companies.