How to NOT get your book discovered by Hollywood! 5 Easy Steps
Everybody knows how their big Hollywood story is supposed to go, right? You finish your manuscript, mail it off to submit it, get a bunch of rejections, but you don’t give up, and then one day, comes that magic call. “We really liked your style! We’re going to work up a treatment and then have a screenwriter adapt it into a feature script!” the nice, polite producer says on the other end of the line, “I’ve talked to Tom Cruise and he’s interested in the title role.” You get the contract soon after that and it’s for a million bucks! Sign on the dotted line and a few months later you’re in production, with a big premiere that you can invite all your friends and relatives to attend.
Well…while that sort of thing might have happened a few decades ago, but nowadays there are few such easy ways to screen. Taking a project all the way is an insider’s game, with a lot to learn before you jump in. First, let’s start with what NOT to do.
5 Ways to NOT get Discovered in Hollywood
- Stubbornly stick to the traditional route. The above story pretty much sums up a dream that has been failing to yield results for writers for the last few years. With overhead deals slashed or going extinct, film production company offices –full of people who buy and option material—simply don’t have the staff they used to, so there’s a lot less reading going on. It can take several hours to review a whole book, and for these companies, time is money. So if you want to get on their radar, it’s necessary to make your book quickly and easily digestible for a busy film producer, executive, or assistant—the gatekeepers needed to champion your cause.
- Attempt to get an agent right off the street! With the star system unstable, it’s hard out there for today’s agents. They’re struggling to find work for the talent on their existing roster, so many are not open to putting a lot of hours into pushing a new project by an unknown talent, even if the story is really great. Some fortunate writers do start off with a manager, but for most it’s a producer—or they simply represent the project themselves.
- Attempt to make your film without any financial investment behind it. Many investors have gotten burned when they’ve put money into a film—they’re high-risk investments. So it’s gotten harder to find financing for films, especially first-money-in on the investment. It’s advisable to be able to show some money behind a project—even if it’s via crowdsourcing, a friend or relative, or your own bank. Borrowed money is fine, but so many people come in to Hollywood with non-starters, it’s good to show that you are a little more equipped than the average newcomer.
- Attempt to make your film without a good director. It can be tempting to attach that eager young guy you met at a film festival who is looking for a first project, or that person who is willing to put $20K into the budget…but you’ve got to really think about what their version of your story will ultimately look like. You’ll need to look at their past work to figure out their strengths and weaknesses and assess whether they are a good match for the material.
- Attempt to make your film without a marketing/distribution plan. It’s great to take on the endeavor of physical production, but you’ve got to think about what is ultimately going to get audiences to buy tickets. You need to have an idea of the avenues through which films like yours are sold and marketed to the public. What will be their reason for buying a ticket for this on a Friday or Saturday night? Beyond “What’s the story you want to tell,” be very clear on “What’s the irresistible market hook?” and “Which distributor would be interested in this, and for who?”