Market Your Screenplay

LETTERS

Query and submission letters are often mailed, faxed, or e-mailed during a campaign. One page only, as brief as possible, leaving them wanting more. The letter should show that the author . .

  • Created a project that could make a good motion picture.
  • Knows the project well, the story he's trying to tell.
  • Received commendations elsewhere.
  • Possesses real qualifications.

Example Format:

Terms in the example query letter below that are placed inside double symbols, e.g., ||First Name|| ||Last Name||, are for the information specific to your situation, or that changes with each letter (like the variable fields in a print merge). Movie (or project) titles, yours and anyone else's you mention, should be put in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

Dear ||First Name|| ||Last Name||: [you likely don't know the addressee well enough to use first name only; and no Mr./Mrs./Ms./etc. as you can't always be sure of gender, and gender/marital/professional titles can be tricky]

"Promotional teaser or tagline."
[centered and indented right and left in italicized Courier font--something that might appear on a movie poster like 'Ever want to be someone else? Now you can.' for BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. See other examples on movie posters at your local cinema.]

"Something positive someone has said about your project" says ||First Name|| ||Last Name||, ||Title|| of ||Organization||, about PROJECT TITLE the ||genre|| [e.g., action-adventure, comedy, drama, etc.] that . . . [a brief tag description of some attractive or defining aspect of the PROJECT].

[three-line synopsis block-indented one inch right and left]

PROJECT TITLE has . . . [state accomplishments and distinctions, such as contest placement, without giving impression it has been "shopped all over town"]. I . . . [state your writing and life qualifications at their most concise and enticing, especially as they relate to the project and help sell it].

[If a submission letter: Thank you for agreeing to take a look at PROJECT TITLE.] I/we look forward to working with an organization with the exceptional reputation of ||Organization||.

Sincerely,

[signature(s)]

||Your Name(s)|| [if multiple names/signatures, format properly]

Enclosures. [the script, one- or two-page synopsis, and writer qualifications, depending on stage of process]

  • Use professional stationery with printed letterhead for the submission letter where possible-- high quality paper with a computer-generated letterhead where not.
  • Word-use, spelling, syntax, brevity--all so important in the script itself--are doubly important here. Run spell check, re-read several times, sleep on it before sending it out, have someone else read it over, etc.
  • The best tone to adopt is 'confident humility'. Let kudos from other people brag about the project, don't do it yourself.
  • Never make predictions regarding market potential for the film. Industry professionals cast a jaundiced eye on any writer who proclaims himself savant enough to see the future. "No one knows anything" in this increasingly random business--just ask William Goldman.

Pitch the synopsis to a few people to refine it. Over the phone works. You may find yourself doing precisely that many times in a marketing campaign. Edit, rethink, rewrite, edit, rethink, rewrite until it squeaks.

You may want to consider e-mailing your queries to producers.


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