Your questions answered by a  Hollywood professional

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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I'm young and slightly naive when it comes down to this whole game. If you have what you feel is a great, marketable idea, how do you get the chance to pitch it? I know all about writing things on Spec, but what about treatments? Also, what if it's an already existing property (Remake of an older flick)? I understand if you're too busy to answer these questions, I'm just curious. I have some ideas that I think would sell, and I'm wondering how to get my foot in the door.
Bryan  from Los Angeles

This week's Answer: 

Don't Get Your Treatment Pitched Right Out The Door You Want To Get Your Foot In

Getting to pitch an idea /treatments is a bit tricky unless you have contacts who can get you into studios and connect you with producers.  Most will only take pitches from those who have track records (but, of course, I've mixed my metaphors again like many in the business.  We need to make up our minds whether we're playing baseball or running track) but there are the exceptions.  You want to be careful who you're pitching to (especially if you're on a running track) and make sure your material is as protected as possible (WGA is recommended).  There are places on the Internet that will take pitches, but, again, make sure you know who they are and what their track record is (and if they can pitch as well as bat).  There are pitch events  around town (I learned how to throw a fast and curve ball as a kid in little league baseball so I don't go to them) that you can pay to attend in which a screenwriter has opportunities to pitch to a number of producers (I guess they like baseball and didn't get to go to little league) looking for certain types of screenplays.  (I received pitches at one of them -- and I'm not even a catcher.  Too hard on the knees.)

You have a much better chance getting your idea seen if it is a screenplay.  You'll be taken much more seriously.  The truth is everybody has good ideas.  It's those who can offer a screenplay who usually get the second look.  There are no rules, but that's the general order of things in the "movie universe."
If an idea is really good, know that there are others somewhere also working on that idea.  That's how it seems to go.  As soon as that brainstorm hits, it's best to move quickly.  And it's best to write the script.
Existing properties and writing remakes is another layer of challenges.  You're talking about getting the rights and being involved with previous companies or producers or agents and, probably, authors.  It can be done, but, if you want to make your first mark, it's usually best to do it from an original standpoint.  But don't let any existing patterns or statistics ever deter you.  If you have a remake idea, for example, and that's what you want to do, get on the phone, the Internet, a horse, if necessary, and take it as far as you can.  Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do something.  One day, if you keep persisting, you will get your foot in the door.
Just be remember that sometimes it's wise to wear army boots.


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