by R.S. Mellette
If I had all the answers about how to turn your work into a finished blockbuster movie, I wouldn't be writing this blog. Or maybe I would, but the sound outside my office window would be waves crashing on a Hawaiian beach, not cars on the 405 freeway.
In past installments (see Part One and Part Two) I wrote about what not to do. Don't send your work directly to a studio. Instead, you want to build a team of supporters.
What your team looks like will depend entirely on you. If you're not in Hollywood, I'd say look around locally. Most universities have film departments now, which means kids will be making movies. Talk to professors there, see if you can volunteer to help. Get in touch with the filmmaking teams in your area and work your way up. Six degrees of separation starts with your first crew credit.
But if you don't want to go that route, you can do the query thing. Query letters are not standard in the film business, so you'll have a hard time finding the data you need. Start with a current copy of the Hollywood Creative Directory and a subscription to IMDBpro. You're looking for a manager, not an agent.
Whole textbooks have been written on the differences between a manager and an agent. "Manager" has really become another word for producer. They will work to get the project of yours that they like produced. If they can stay on as a producer, then you don't have to pay them anything, which is nice. If not, they generally get 15-20% of your cut. These days, agents act more like lawyers. They really earn their money when it comes to collecting contract bonuses and participation money. In other words, stuff you don't need to worry about yet.
Managers come in all shapes and sizes, and they aren't governed by California state laws the way agents are, so you have to be careful who you deal with. They are also one of the few groups that will read your query letter.
One of the other groups is a production company, which basically does all the work you think a movie studio does in terms of making a movie. The bigger ones have deals with studios – like Imagine with Universal, Village Roadshow with Warner Bros. etc. A major production company can be as big and impersonal as a studio, so best to avoid those without an introduction by a manager or agent.
Small companies might be more approachable. This will take some research. For example, say you've got a nice little Christmas story. These things show up by the thousands on the Lifetime Network, Hallmark Channel, etc. So, research the titles, get on IMDBpro to find the production company, and send them a query.
Summing up. You need to build a team. Start small. Be patient. Keep at it.
Now it's time for me to take my own advice and get some of my own stuff sold!