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Your Hollywood Career File Drawer #8

Ref 300. Hi Linda. I have been doing local theatre productions in my home state for several years, and have just moved to L.A. (2 months ago) my strength is in comedic & improv acting. I'm taking acting & improv classes in L.A. and doing standup at area clubs every opportunity I get. I want to be on the fastest track to my goals as possible, and not waste any time with the wrong people (con artists, parasites, time & $ wasters etc.) My questions are: 1) How do I successfully make the transition from stage to to television in L.A. in 1997? 2) Please advise my on selecting the best agent/representation. My goal is to be on a weekly TV sitcom or comedy show like MAD TV. Thanks! E-Mail: JHollywood@hotmail.com

Ref 301. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 300, J. HOLLYWOOD: 1)Stage acting in LA, including standup, is usually done to get "noticed" by agents and producers. Make it your business to get the powers that be to attend! 2)The best agent for you is the one who loves you madly and knows the right people. For a start, find out who represents the talent on the shows you love. Call SAG and they'll tell you. Target them because they already have the connections where you need them. Also, since you're in LA you may want to come in for an individual career consultation. Call me at 310/553-9660 and I'll send you a free brochure describing the career counseling I do. Good luck!

Ref 302. Hi Linda--I am a t.v. producer in FL, looking to change careers and get a job in a talent agency. I had a phone consultation with you back in December of last year, and you gave some wonderful advice to me on landing a job in an agency. Unfortunately, all of my attempts thus far have proven fruitless, and you made a suggestion that I might start networking here in FL on the local level first. Did you suggest that getting to know someone in the Florida Theatrical Association might be useful? I seem to remember that name coming up in our conversation, but I'm not quite sure that it did. If so, how could they be of help?

Ref 304. Dear Linda, this may appear totlly humurous and even unprofessional, but I am interested into how to get into more acting and the "business" in Hollywood. I have little experience and I am aware that I am another fish in the water, but if you have any onformation I would really appreciate it. Rachel Detroit, Michigan

Ref 306. hi linda, i currently have two producers going over my script, its a sci/fi epic, low budget, first producer liked it but has too many projects, second is gonna help me get an agent, what would next step be if he likes it, thanks.DEvans8087@aol.com

Ref 307. Hi Linda! I am a screenwriter currently living in Chicago. I would like to move to L.A. to better my chances of selling one or more properties. My question is, how can I get a studio job to support myself while marketing my screenplays? I have background in art sales, gardening and landscaping with extensive management experience. In addition, I also do voiceovers. Help!!!

Ref 309. Dear Linda. I'm currently seeking representation for 3 completed full length screenplays: IRON MAIDEN (erotic thriller), STRANDED IN PARADISE (dramatic action/adventure), and DIAMONDBACK (political thriller). Can you help me? Thank you.

Ref 310. Can you please show me a sample of a query letter ?
Im really lost about this. I have some good stuff
I want to show to some agents, but I dont have
any idea of how to write a query letter.
I will apreciate any help !

Leo from Mexico.

Ref 311. Dear Ms. Buzzell: I have read both editions of your book. Extremely enlightening! I often refer back to it on many occassions.

I have lived in Los Angeles for three years now, and have been experiencing great difficulty in obtaining any solid contacts--especially those hiring post. I have this year joined the editos guild (asst. snd. editor), where I acquired credit on my first feature. I thought that with this film more doors would be open to me, but those contacts have come up empty. And, the snd super who hired me no longer wishes to supervise again. I have even asked the aid of the guild.

Where I used to encounter the fault of not being in the guild, I am now exeriencing fault at not being part of the "regular post crew." And, there aren't any openings in which I may become part of the team. And, yet "they" acknowledge that I am very qualified and have great references. I can even edit on three top digital editing systems, and have assisted on editing and conforming mag film.

Although, a mentoring programme would benefit me enormously, I cannot find any that I qualify for. I cannot seem to even get close to where I may be taken under an editor's wing who'd have clout enough to hire me on a show so that I may gain more skills and more contacts...and above all be paid for assisting.

Its rather frustrating...I have known since high school that I wanted to be an editor. At the age of 5 I knew how to edit audio (for radio) as my mother was a radio producer. [I tell you all of this so that you may understand a little more who and where I am coming from.] I have always possessed great writing skills (I find myself having to write just to maintain my sanity). And, I surprised my family when I chose not to take the path as a screenwriter.

My goals have always been to first be a sound editor, than become a qualified picture editor (working as one who possessed skills of being both). Afterwards, I would pursue screenwriting; since most editors retire from becoming burned out, I would be utilising yet another skill.

If you could possibly offer me advice to this predicament I would be most appreciative. Thank you.


Ref 312. ps. I apologise for the lengthiness in the previous letter.

Ref 313. Linda:

Currently, I live in Portland, Oregon. I earned my living for many years as a producer/director in non-profit theater and writing for print. I now make my living as a freelance writer. I started writing dramatic material 7 years ago, and my early screenplays performed well in major competitions, including the Nicholl Fellowships. (I was a 1994 semi-finalist with a script that finished in the top 20 of over 3,900 entries.) Which led to my first option and a Writer/Co-producer contract. That script is now in development with established independents who do projects for PBS. I have since signed a Writer/Co-producer agreement on another piece, which is also in development hell. Recently I finished a script that 4 producers have asked to see. (One of them is an Emmy winner.) I have not made a fortune, but I have made some money, which was nice. I was with a WGA agent for 3 years. She really did me very little good. (She talked a good story, but it was just talk. If I wanted action, I had to do the job myself. I even negotiated my first contract myself!) I got sick of her wasting my time, and finally, we went our separate ways in January. Her inaction forced me to handle my affairs, however, and so far, I've had pretty good results. Certainly better than my agent ever achieved. Now, as my work is getting out there, more issues are appearing. I'm not always sure what to do, and I wonder whether it will help to find another agent. Like the writer in Message 296, I have sent out queries to people on the WGA list, but the agents have either ignored my letters or they have declined. At this point, I have an entertainment lawyer's address, and I wonder, should I just forget the agent quest? Since even a paid, working writer with good credentials and deals on the table doesn't interest them, why should I bother? Won't a good lawyer work just as well?

W.J. Henson

Ref 320. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 302, TV PRODUCER IN FLORIDA: Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. I've been on vacation. The organization I suggest you contact is the Florida Film Commission. They are the folks who lobby Hollywood producers to shoot films and Tv shows in Florida and they stay up to date on what's happening both locally and in LA and NY. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 304, RACHEL IN DETROIT MICHIGAN: Before you decide whether or not to pursue a career in acting or show business, please read my book "How to Make It in Hollywood," published by HarperCollins. It was written for you! Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 306, D EVANS: Glad things are going well for you. It the second producer wants to help you get an agent, terrific! Ask that agent to represent you on the script if the second producer likes it. Best of luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 307, SCREENWRITER IN CHICAGO: If you decide to move to LA, your best bet would be to get a first job in an area you have expertise in already, so you don't have to "cross over" both geographically and career-wise simultaneously. Once you're here, you'll be able to explore other possibilities. Call me at (310) 553-9660 if you'd like to set up a phone consultation session. If you'd like to receive a free brochure describing what I do, just leave a mailing address. Look forward to chatting with you soon.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 309, WRITER OF IRON MAIDEN: Where do you live? Getting an agent is different depending on where you're based. Please get back to me.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 310, LEO FROM MEXICO: I suggest you post a message for Doni Nelson, who's another faculty member here at the Screenwriters Network. She's a writer's consultant and may have a sample query letter she can post for you. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 311, HLUV THE EDITOR: You're doing great, but need to take the next step: using the guild to network. Get on a committee, put in some volunteer time and get to know everyone you can. Editors are hired because they have "friends." You need to have a lot of good contacts to stay employed, not just one or two. Don't give up! Best of luck! If you're still stuck, call my office at (310) 553-9660 and we can schedule an in-person career consultation if you'd like. I can also send you a free brochure describing the consultations that I do.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 313, W.J. HENSON IN PORTLAND: It sounds like you're doing pretty well representing yourself, so if you like you could just hire an entertainment lawyer to do your deal. That lawyer may be able to refer you to an agent they like. You may also want to explore the possibility of a manager. Best of luck!

Ref 314. Linda, I am having a tough time breaking into show business. Acting is my one goal in life. I don't see how it can be done by someone like me who doesn't come from a long family history of actors nor from a very wealthy family. Is it a frivolous persuit or is there something I can< do to take command of the business? I have been in LA for two years with nothing to show for it. I have taken a few classes and auditioned for movies, TV and student films, but they have passed me by. I have an extensive theatre background but nothing on tape. Can you help me? Any advice will be appreciated. Sincerly, Kev.
email bongolo@earthlink.net

Ref 315. Linda,
glad to meet you! I would like advice on what to do, and who to
contact, about the possibility of selling my screenplays to someone
in hollywood. any information you can give me will be helpful!
thank you for your time.

Ref 317. My name is Ryan and I live in Maryland.
I am very interested in acting.
Some of my hobbies include flying, swimming, and computers.

Ref 318. Dear Linda:
I would first like to say that I read your book a while back and I just
loved it -- it had a lot of excellent material and advice in it. One
thing however that your book couldn't answer for me was what to do
about my foreign citizenship. I am a resident of Canada and for me to
make it in the American film industry being a Canadian citizen makes
a difficult task even harder. I know that there is currently a great
deal of Canadian talent working in the States(eg, Jim Carrey, William
Shatner, Pamela Lee, Jason Preistly, etc.) but when it comes to the story
of their success I have never heard how they were able to overcome
the fact they were from another country. (how they were able to get
work visas, green cards, American citizenship, etc.) I have done some
work in production on Canadian projects and would love to pursue the
same career in the United States but having only Canadian film
experience along with various legal and professional obsticals makes
transition into the American film market quite difficult. Do you have any
ideas or comments on this problem? I would appreciate any feedback you
have on my query. Thank you very much for your time.

Leon Thomas Braun

Ref 319. Hi, Linda, I've been out here (in LA) for about a month. I read your book awhile ago - and use it as a reference tool. But, my question is: you say getting an entry-level position (say PA) is easy. Well, I just don't see it.
I intend to pursue an acting & singing career - but want first to have the production job to continue eating & paying rent.

Can you suggest other wats of getting that all-to-famous foot in the door?

Thanks Shonna blakes7@pacbell.net

Ref 321. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 314, BUDDING ACTOR: Where do you live? Can you study acting in your city -- at school, college or community theater? That's the best place to start. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 315, SCREENPLAY WRITER: Contact the Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to order their catalog. There are some good books for writers on how to sell a screenplay. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 317, RYAN FROM MARYLAND: See my reply to Ref 314 above. Start where you live! Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 318, LEON THOMAS BRAUN: I'm glad you enjoyed my book. There are many good attorneys in Canada who specialize in obtaining work visas, green cards, American citizenship if you need them, or you can just apply to the US Immigration service directly. Don't let that stop you! Best of luck.

Ref 325. Dear Linda, Hi! I'm from South Africa. I've been writing primarily for the stage for the past ten years and have always wanted to write for the big screen (who doesn't?). Well, I got my lucky break two years ago with a script for a short film (26min) that was produced by MNet in South Africa. This year I had another short film produced in SA by Channel 4 (Britain). My South African producer is now negotiating to have a feature script of mine commissioned by Channel 4. My problem is that I do not have an agent as yet. How necessary would this be to secure the best deal for myself? Can I get myself represented by an American agent and still have my contract legally binding in SA? My initial scripts have been strongly South African in character but other projects are aimed at wider international markets. I've also learned that certain agents here take up to 20% of the writer's fee as their commission. Is this acceptable? Or should I just try to get along without one? Many thanks for your wonderful forum. Ajay Hurbans, Durban, South Africa.

Ref 326. Dear Linda,
Help! I'm sixteen and hooked (nothing new, I've literally wanted to do
this since the age of three.) "This" is, of course, movies. And worse,
I fear (as I've discovered in classes) that I love directing the most.
What a disease! My parents are fairly well off, ans will pay for any
classes, and I have a job to pay for anything else. In school, my
academic focuses are in theater, and science, both of which I am fairly
good at. I have dne some reading, and I am part way through your book.
Wow, do you ever know what you're talking about. What do you suggest
I do now (And trust me, I will do anything) to prepare myself (and
assure my family), because I know what kind of odds are against me.
Corinne Smith

Ref 327. Dear Linda,
I am a novice screenwriter, I am working as a workstudy student at MCTV here in Portland, also I will begin T.V. Production program at Mt. Hood Community College in the fall. I hace written many screenplays, I have a true to life story that I am willing to sell to the best bidder, a innercitylifeomentary.
Thanz, Deborah Bell a.k.a DEB bka mb/precious

Ref 328. I am a dissabled actor / script writer in the New England area. To better understand where I'm comming from please visit my web page at: http//www.ici.net/cust_pages/misiolek/misiolek.html.
I was in the Steven Spielberg film "Amistad" shot recently in Newport, Rhode Island. I was also in the film "TAX DAY" and I'm waiting for a call back for "Meet Joe Black. My original intention
was to experience the filmmaking process first-hand in an effort to create more marketable vehicles for physically impaired performers. However, if I continue working locally as an extra or character
actor I may achieve better results than as writer trying to pitch a script to some one three thousand miles away. I would very much like to explore whatever opportunities there may be for me in
future SAG film and television productions. I am looking for agent to represent me and pitch my scripts. The problem is no agent will take me on until I sell a script and no production company will
look at my script unless I go through an agent. How can I get around this?

Ref 329. I had the pleasure of working on the Steven Spielberg film "Amistad" shot recently in Newport, Rhode Island. I was also in the film 'TAX DAY"
and I'm waiting for a call back for "Meet Joe Black" My original intention was to experience the filmmaking process first-hand in an effort to
create more marketable vehicles for physically impaired performers. Please visit my web page at: http//www.ici.net/cust_pages/misiolek/misiolek.html.
However, if I continue working locally as an extra or character actor I may achieve better results than as writer trying to pitch a script to some
one three thousand miles away. I would very much like to explore whatever opportunities there may be for me in future SAG film and television
productions. I am looking for an agent to represent me and pitch my scripts. The problem is an agent won't take me on until I sell a script and a
production company won't look at my scripts unless I go through an agent. How can I get around this?


Ref 332. LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 325, AJAY HURBANS, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: Congratulations -- you're doing great! As for agents, I'm afraid I don't know much about how things work in South Africa, but I'd suggest that you speak to some fellow scriptwriters there. I'm sure there is some kind of writer's organization, perhaps even affiliated with the Writers Guild of America in some way? Also you might want to contact the British Screenwriters Guild as your project will be for Channel 4. In the U.S., the going rate for agents to take is 10% tops, so I hope you don't have to put up with more than that. Also I have a chapter on agents in my book "How to Make It in Hollywood," 2nd edition, published by HarperCollins. If you have any trouble ordering it from a local bookstore, you can contact the Samuel French film and Theatre Bookshop here at the Hollywood Network. I know they have it. Good luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 326, CORINNE SMITH: What area do you live in? You can call my office at 310/553-9660 and leave a mailing address and we'll send you a free brochure describing the career counseling I do. You may want to schedule a phone or in-person session to help you plan your career. As you know, being a director is tough, and I'd probably suggest that you start as soon as possible, making your own film -- shoot it on video if you need to. Then you can enter contests and festivals like the Hollywood network festival! Good luck.

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 327, DEBORAH BELL: Good luck with your script. Just to plug in to the screenwriter community, I suggest you subscribe to "script" magazine. Call (410) 592-3466 for info. Best of luck!

LINDA BUZZELL'S REPLY TO REF 328, NEW ENGLAND ACTOR/SCRIPTWRITER: See my answer to Ref. 327: "script" magazine is a good source of info for writers. You may want to enter some of the contests. Also check out the Hollywood Film Festival here on the network. A good way to plug in! Good luck!

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