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Your Hollywood Career File Drawer #7

Ref 262. Do you know of any good videos on *how to* for aspiring actors?

Ref 263. Response to ref 262
I'm really sorry, I'm afraid I don't know of any videos in that area.

Linda Buzzell

Ref 267. Hi and greetings from the Philippines! What are the chances of an ethnic minority and a non-US citizen & resident as a Hollywood screenwriter? What would it take for him to realistically pursue this goal?

Ref 268. Happy New Year. Been receiving a lot of brochures from professional readers like SCRIPT WORKS and how they can forward my script to agents producers. Any feedback on this scenario? Thanks.

Ref 269. Happy New Year and greetings from beautiful Santa Barbara, California! I am a prolific writer by night but am an Investigative Probation Officer by day. Have some great story ideas for law/criminal justice shows such as Law & Order. How do I submit them? Thanks! D.Lewis (sbfilm@rain.org)

Ref 270. Hello! What is the rule of thumb regarding screenplay credit? I've heard that a writer must contribute at least 50% of new material to justify a credit. Is this true? A colleague has offered to help me with a rewrite and I just want to do whatever is appropriate. Thank you so much!

Ref 271. I have your book and found it quite helpful. I have a spec Seinfeld and six years of one-liners I wrote as a road comic. I want to get a TV agent and write for a sitcom. I was thinking of faxing query letters to TV agents because when I've sent letters with SASE I get half back if I'm lucky. My letter is short and interesting. Suggestions?

Ref 272. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 267, WRITER FROM PHILIPPINES: Hollywood development execs and producers really only care about one thing: does your script have a great (commercial) premise, castable characters (i.e. stars will want to play the roles) and riveting plot that keeps us on the edge of our seats through the whole movie! If you can deliver that in 100-120 pages in standard Hollywood screenplay format, they'll read and maybe buy. Your best bet is to start reading books on screenplay writing (I recommend some in my book "How to Make It in Hollywood", published by HarperCollins), take classes from pros, enter script contests, subscribe to "script" magazine, P O Box 7, Long Green Pike, Baldwin, MD 21013-0007 USA. Their phone is (410) 592-3466. Good luck!

Ref 273. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 268: Be cautious. There are a lot of professional script readers out there promising you the world. Check their credentials and call or write them for further info. Exactly what agents are they going to submit your script to? And, by the way, ask if they submit all scripts they read to agents, even if they're badly written. If so, you can be sure that the agents throw the scripts they submit into the nearest trash can. Script readers can be helpful if they have solid studio experience and can give you professional coverage and notes, but be wary of anyone who promises you that they will deliver your script to an agent before they've even taken a look at it to see if it's any good.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 269, WRITER FROM SANTA BARBARA: Before you can submit story ideas to TV shows, you need some sample "spec" episodes of various shows to prove that you've got the ability to execute those ideas at the highest professional standards. Usually writers submit these "specs" to agents and once they get a credible agent, the agent can submit them to the show and request a meeting for you. If you have no luck getting an agent you can try submitting directly to a show but it's tough unless you know someone. If I were you, I'd join a writer's networking group like the Scriptwriters Network at 213/848-9477 to help you make the right connections. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 270: The rules about screenplay credit have been worked out in minute detail by the Writers Guild. Try contacting them for info.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 271, WRITER OF SPEC "SEINFELD,": You may want to check out my answer to ref.269 above. By the way, getting answers to half your letters to agents is terrific! You must have written a great letter! Usually they don't bother to respond at all, as they are inundated with scripts and letters. I don't know if faxing will up your odds but give it a try. Also write a second and third spec for one or two other shows to demonstrate your range of talent. And join a scriptwriter's network so you can make contacts. Also subscribe to "script" magazine (see ref. 267 above.) Best of luck.

Ref 277. Dear Ms. Buzzell, I love your book and have just found this wonderful column. I'm determined to become a television writer, and my goal is to obtain a staff-writer position. Since I'm interested in the science-fiction genre, and it's currently popular, I've set my sights on the Star Trek franchise. I realize attaining these goals is no small feat, but I refuse to be daunted. I've written one Star Trek: Voyager script, and I'm working on another. My questions are these: 1.) Should my second script be a Star Trek script? Other writers have suggested that the second should be for another show, in order to show my range. This makes sense for obvious reasons. However, since my goals are very focused, wouldn't it be better to have two good Star Trek spec scripts to show an agent? 2.) How can I find out what kind of scripts the producers are looking for? Is there a specific office that might give me this information? I appreciate any insights you could give me. Thank you.

Ref 278. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 277, STAR TREK WRITER: Glad you enjoyed my book. My advice on your two questions is 1) write your second spec for another science fiction genre script, not a second Star Trek. 2) If you call the production offices of specific shows, sometimes they make show guidelines available for spec script writers. The office numbers are listed in the TV production charts in the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety. If you read those publications for a week, you'll discover the charts. If this doesn't work, just do your best - watch all the shows and you'll get an idea of the direction the show is moving in.

Ref 280. Dear Linda:
The scripts I tend to write seem to be 'small', character driven stories, with lots of humor and quirky characters and so it has been very hard to get most agents/agencies to even read, much less represent them. So I was wondering if you had any advice for a screenwriter who just doesn't seem to have 'blockbuster' appeal? Thanks for your time.
Scott Lee

Ref 281. Hi, I'm planning to go to acting, directing, and writing school after I graduate from college with a major in broadcast media. I was wondering, how I could acquire a job in acting, directing, or writing after I have finished acting,directing, and writing school? Also do I need to go to a school like acting, directing and writing? Are all three of these offered at one school? I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions at once.
Candace Broussard

Ref 282. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 280, SCOTT LEE: Try writing some spec scripts and/or episodes for TV shows you like. It sounds like you have the right sensibility. And keep on writing feature specs too. Sooner or later if they're really great and have wonderful characters, some 'name' actors will want to play those parts. Think about it: "Rain Man" was a TV movie with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in it -- so it became a feature film! Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 281, CANDACE BROUSSARD: Read my book "How to Make It in Hollywood" (HarperCollins). I think you'll find the answers to all your questions there. If, after reading it, you still have queries, post them here! Enjoy!

Ref 283. Linda,
After I finish post - production of my sit-com pilot "One Better World" what is the next step in getting a studio to make a deal.
Chris Braun...thanks

Ref 284. Linda; as Oregon-based screenwriting partners marketing ourselves, we have been highly successful at eliciting interest in our scripts from established producers, actor's agents and the like. We have an attorney standing ready to write deals. The current stall in our careers involves our inability to move our treatments and scripts past the coverage stage. Much of the feedback and coverage is flattering... but we just can't seem to get past the tail-chasing stage where producers won't move the material into development before an actor attaches, an actor wont attach until a producer buys the option, etc... Any suggestions for turning up the heat on an interested party at the point when they like the material but it sits undeveloped on their desk while we try to chase down a committed advocate or firm attachment from another party?

Ref 285. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 283, CHRIS BRAUN: Sorry it took me so long to reply. I need more info to better advise you on your sitcom pilot. Do you have an agent? Is the pilot produced with recognizable actors at a studio/network level of production? Is it a rough demo to give people the general idea but you're looking for financing? I look forward to hearing from you.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 284, OREGON SCREENWRITING PARTNERS: You've made great progress so far! But it's tough to take the next steps: getting assignments or making a sale. To get assignments you need your agent, hopefully LA-based and well known in the industry, to set up lots of meetings for you with development people around town who might want to view your scripts as writing samples and hire you to write or rewrite something. This might require moving to LA, but perhaps strategic "hit and run" visits might suffice. Also these "meet and greet" sessions will turn up the heat on actually selling your current projects. Another thing that perks up the level of interest in your projects is for someone else to want them, so there's a sense of urgency to the purchase. That allows your agent (or you) to contact all the "maybes" and tell them they have to act quickly or they'll lose the opportunity of making your movie. You sound like you've been very successful so far at marketing yourselves so keep at it. This is a tough town to crack, but you sound like kind of people who just might do it. Good luck!

Ref 286. Dear Ms. Buzzell:

Aware this is not within your speciality, although it is industry related, I would appreciate I if you could point me in a good direction for some advice.

A friend of mine recently graduated from Horsens Polytechnic Department of Building Design and Technology in Denmark; with a degree as CONSTRUCTING ARCHITECT BTH specialized in building works or civil engineering works.

He is specifically qualified to carry out the technical design of buildings independently and/or in collaboration with other consultants. Furthermore he is qualified to plan, control and execute the construction of buildings.

Since we are both relocating to the Los Angeles area this June -- he wants to address the studios as to seek employment in the Art Department.

What would be the best approach? Apparently, he should send them a superb cover letter and resume, right? But to whom? The Production Designer?

Any advice would be welcome.


Eric Lilleor

P.S. My friend wants to offer you a 15% discount; on any architectural works you, your family or friends might need in the future.

Ref 287. Linda,
What Screenwriting contests would you recommend a beginning writer enter? I have heard of the Nicholls, the Chesterfield, the Austin Film Festival, and the Columbus Discovery Awards. I would appreciate your feedback on these or others and your opinion of the value of a new writer entering contests.

Thank you,


Ref 288. how do i make it big and get people to notice and hire me?

Ref 289. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF.286, ERIC LILLEOR: Are you still planning to move to LA in June? If so, you can start your networking even before you arrive, asking everyone you know if they have any LA contacts, even if they aren't in the industry. Then ask each of these (LA) people if they would be willing to give you advice and possibly referrals about connecting with people who work in production design and construction. Cold letters to the studio are a long shot. It's better to do it through networking and schmoozing! If you like, you can call me at 310/553-9660 for a career consultation.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF. 287 RE. SCREENWRITING CONTESTS: I think contests are a great idea, and if you win any kind of an award, that's a good thing to mention in a letter to prospective agents. All the contests you mentioned are good, and you can also find out about others by subscribing to script magazine 410/592-3466. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF. 288: I wrote my book "How to Make It in Hollywood" (Second Edition), published by HarperCollins, just to answer your question! Read it and let me know if it helps you. Best of luck.

Ref 290. Hi Linda...
I live in Utah, where I'm a creative director/writer with an advertising agency. I wrote my first movie-of-the-week last year - a "work for hire" for a non-union production company. I just received a call, and they tell me they not only have the financing to produce it, they want to produce 13 episodes for a syndicated series based on it - which they want me to help write. The production is non-union, no residuals. They want to know how much money I want, and can I leave me job for a year and do it (Not and keep my job!)
I'm 50. I have a family. It would be the first step toward a lifetime dream (like most aspiring screenwriters!). But I don't want to do something stupid. Any suggestions?

Ref 291. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 290, UTAH SCREENWRITER: First of all, congratulations! Secondly, you need someone to negotiate your deal, pronto! Even tho it's non-union, when they're talking syndicated series etc., you want to take care of yourself properly. Talk to Mark Litwak, an attorney who is one of the other faculty on the Hollywood Network. Another suggestion: call Linda Lichter, esq. at 310/205-6999 and tell them both I referred you. Also, if you'd like to do some career planning about how to capitalize on this success, call me at 310/553-9660 and we can do a phone consultation. Good luck!

Ref 293. hi linda, i am an east coast writer who has been previously published and produced, locally, seeking an agent but when i do get my material requested by agents to review it, they reject it on the bases that im not in los angeles, i'd be willing to relocate, but i'd like to get an agent first, kind of catch 22, any advice you can spare would be most welcomed, thanks, devans8087 at aol.com....

Ref 294. hi linda, any advice on how to get an agent, as i am on the east coast and have been rejected due to location, thanks DEvans@aol.com

Ref 295. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 292, NEW YORK SCREENWRITER D. EVANS: Why not try the NY branches of the big Hollywood agencies? I know they look primarily for book material, but you sound like you have "all-around" talents. Agents are funny -- they like to press the flesh, eyeball you, check you out to see that you won't embarass them if they send you to a meeting. It gets tough if you're not physically available. One thought might be to make a special trip to LA to "meet and greet." But they'd still worry that they couldn't send you to meetings except maybe once or twice a year when you're in LA. Many of the NYC writers who make it in Hollywood have first become "stars" in NYC and then migrated to LA in a blaze of glory. Do you write plays, perchance? A hit book also doesn't hurt. Write back to let me know what you decide to do. Best of luck.

Ref 296. Linda. I have written for many years and have an extensive library
of finished scripts. Over the years I have had a number of scripts
that were nearly produced but fell by the wayside because of competing
projects or some other reason. Recently, my partner and I sold a
script to a Hollywood producer. We have been paid for the script.
Filming starts the first week of June. All of the leads are being
played by "A" list actors. This film is slated to open around
December, 1997. I had always been told that having a produced
film would make it easier to find an agent. (We negotiated the
deal ourselves) I am finding that it doesn't. Conventional
wisdom is that I should write query letters to agencies and
hope that someone will respond. Other advice I have received is
to call agencies and try that route. I have written a large
number of letters and the response is terrible. I don't know
anyone in the business who can refer me to an agent. I feel that
writing cold letters is a waste of time. I have written a
comedy/drama that took four years and three rewrites to finish.
An acquaintance at one of the studios read the script and
said it is a Mega Blockbuster (she doesn't know anybody either)
What do you think about cold letters to the agencies?
What do you think about cold calls to the agencies?
What advice would you give to a produced writer who needs
an agent?
Adam alleycat@dancris.com

Ref 297. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 296 ADAM ALLEYCAT: Congratulations on selling your script! Forget the cold calls, your bet bet is to get the producer who bought it or one of his or her development people to make a call on your behalf to a few agents. And don't forget that each one of these "A-list actors" in your movie has an agent too. Will you be visiting the set to schmooze? I hope so! Best of luck!

Ref 299. ho linda, thanks fo r your response, im getting my scripts read at least, nibbles but no bites as of yet. im holding out until i get a sale before i relocate.....thanks. devans at aol.com.

Ref 301. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 299, D. EVANS: May all your nibbles turn to bites! Keep me posted.

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