Here is a story from Hal Croasum’s blog that will be of interest to writers outside LA.
For the last 50 years, a screenwriter had to live in Los Angeles in order to be part of this industry. It is just the way things are…
…but there is change in the air.
We recently finished up an event where I interviewed 16 producers and 2 agents in Los Angeles for a group of our writers. One of the questions that came up over and over was…
“Is it possible to create a screenwriting career from outside L.A.?”
In the audience, we had writers from all over the world. Only a few lived around L.A., so this one question was pretty important to the group.
WHAT WAS THE SCORE?
I’ve done interviews with producers for twelve years. Up until recently, the typical answer to the “selling from outside L.A.” question was “The odds are against you.” But this year, there was a change.
QUESTION: Can writers sell scripts from outside L.A.?
15 producers said YES.
1 producer and both agents said NO.
QUESTION: Have you optioned or bought a script from outside L.A.?
8 producers said YES.
3 producers had already made movies with writers from outside the U.S.
It’s not a perfect score, but it means that it is possible for a writer to succeed from anywhere in the World.
FIRST, THE BAD NEWS…
…which isn’t really bad. Let’s get the “nos” out of the way.
The producer who said no was from a big production company on the lot of Universal. He likes to see writers face-to-face. He does a lot of meetings. For his way of doing business, you would have to live in town.
For the two agents, their whole success depends upon you being active in the Hollywood community. They want you meeting producers, going in for assignment jobs, and generally, making money – for you and the agent. That doesn’t mean you can’t get an agent or manager from outside of town; you can. Just don’t go for the big agencies.
Those three represented the “standard Hollywood model” of working with writers It is how things have traditionally been done and it will continue to be the standard for a while to come, but…
NOW, THE GOOD NEWS
Fifteen producers said YES. Half of them have optioned scripts from writers out of town. They have found that working with writers can be done on the phone or on the net. In fact, some of them have become quite proficient at it.
When I asked what had attracted them to work with a writer on the net, they gave answers that remain a constant in this industry.
– Intriguing concept.
– Great characters.
– Quality of writing.
– Interesting voice.
They are looking for writers who bring in professional quality scripts. And that makes sense because the producer is looking to make great movies.
WHAT’S YOUR PART IN THIS?
You need to do everything you can to make it easy for producers to work with you. If your producer is new to the net, walk him through the process and MAKE SURE IT WORKS. He will always remember you for liberating him from the old model.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND PRODUCERS?
In the last few years, many of the mid-level producers in Los Angeles have joined Social Networks. They’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. You can also subscribe to online databases like inktip, imdb Pro and Script Pipeline. Many producers listed are actively looking for scripts. Some are just exploring the territory. The Hollywood Creative Directory contains email addresses of agents and producers and the sorts of scripts they are looking for. Set up your own contacts database.
But if you strike up a relationship, you never know what might happen. The odds are more and more in your favor every day. Many screenwriting competitions accept applications globally. Entering will at least get your script read.
Writers I have spoken to from interstate send all their query letters via email. They don’t mention that they living outside LA and treat their location as a non-issue. All industry magazines are available online and scripts can be emailed. If a meeting is called, they can telephone, skype, IM, chat, or say they can be there in a day or two for a face to face chat. The world really is getting smaller. However, make sure your agent/ manager is in LA so they can follow the buzz.
Try to visit an LA maybe once or twice a year such as the Screenwriting Expo. Nothing beats the personal touch. After all, would you propose via email?
Also visit screenwriting forums (actually it’s fora) and chat with other screenwriters. There will always be someone on them from LA. Don’t feel isolated. Be part of our community!