How To's | Screenplay Doctor | Screenwriting

Ask the Screenplay Doctor: Getting to Hollywood and Tracking Down Agents

1 Aug , 2012  

Written by Susan Kouguell | Posted by:

Screenplay columnist Susan Kouguell answers your questions about breaking into Hollywood from overseas, and then finding an agent once you get there. E-mail screenwriter@newenglandfilm.com to have your screenwriting question answered in an upcoming issue.

Knocking on Hollywood’s door not only means also using the doorbell, it means knowing how to find the right representation and companies for your screenplay. And, without question, your screenplay must be the absolute best it can be before you submit it for consideration.

“Poetry Sam” asks:
I am not in the USA. How possible is it for me to break into Hollywood?

I am assuming you are asking how to break into Hollywood as a screenwriter, as opposed to as a director or actor. So, let’s focus in on screenwriting. Breaking into Hollywood and the film industry is challenging despite where you are located — but being outside of the USA does make it even tougher in terms of logistics because you might be less available to meet film executives in person. However, by reading the film industry trade publications one can learn about the film festivals and script conferences that (hopefully) are being held near where you live. Attending these events is important in order to network and meet others working in the industry. Networking increases the chances of breaking into Hollywood by the connections you make at various events.

You should have at least one completed screenplay that is absolutely ready to be submitted to agents, managers, companies, and/or script competitions. Do not submit your script or scripts unless they are in perfect shape and then only if the company, (screenplay competition, and so on), has requested your project.

Check out my past columns for this publication, which also cover more information about breaking into the business and script submission tips.

Alexis Paquette asks:
Why do agents seem to wish to hide themselves? As a member of the Guild, I have run countless searches on the agencies provided in the Signatory, but virtually none of them have websites that say what sorts of genres they look for. I feel as though I am mailing my queries blindly. Should I mail according to the genres accepted by the literary departments of their agencies?
Thank you. I can’t wait to get this figured out!

It is indeed a mystery why many of the agencies listed on the Writers Guild of America website are non-existent or have not been in business in years. When I checked the site recently (and in the past) I found that many listings were inaccurate and people I personally knew were no longer working as agents or managers. Since it appears that the WGA listings are not the most reliable and that you are not making positive progress, here are some suggested sources that have extensive contact information for film executives, production companies and studios — The Hollywood Creative Directory and IMDBPro. Although both charge a monthly subscription fee, they are reliable and contain the most current information.

Another suggestion is to read screenplay and trade publications to learn about new agents/agencies and managers, who are taking on new clients and the types of projects they are representing, and contact them. These, and other resources, often list spec script sales and who buys what.

Executives’ titles frequently change — the industry person who is there today may not be there tomorrow — so make sure that you double-check that the executive is still there and his or her correct title.

As for your other question — yes, focus on the agents/agencies who represent the genre you are working in. By researching their past clients and the work they represent in the aforementioned sources I suggested, for example, this should help you narrow down the list of agencies to target.

My February 2012 column in this publication offers more information about queries and submission pointers. You can also find more tips about finding agents, the business of screenwriting, and more, in my book The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! (St. Martin’s Griffin) and even more about screenwriting in my new book SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises, which is available at a discount price of $1.00 off. Click on www.createspace.com/3558862 and use DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD. To read an excerpt go to: https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1089452.

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University, and is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and film executives worldwide ( www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com). Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page for more Savvy Tips.


Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University, and is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and film executives worldwide ( www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com). Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page for more Savvy Tips.