I posted some of this information as a response to two different threads, but I decided to risk censure by starting a new one.
Back many years ago, when I wrote my first screenplay, I was quite thrilled with my results, and sent it to Swifty Lazar, who was then Hollywood’s most famous agent.
My submission came back, in its original, unopened envelope inside another envelope with words hand-stamped on it that said: “Mr Lazar doesn’t accept mail from people he doesn’t know” – or words to that effect.
That was a lesson about the industry which is still true today – in fact, more so, if you are trying to reach the people at the top.
You can’t. But there are many who do want to hear from you. The hard part:
– How do you find them?
– How should you approach them?
There was an online resource which could be searched to find that information: The Hollywood Creative Directory (HCD) Online. For a $25/month subscription, you could (if you knew exactly what terms to use in a search) find producers, agents, and managers who accepted unsolicited queries from unproduced, unknown (to them) writers.
Last year, and continuing this year, I hired researchers, and together we researched the subject again. (One of my sources of information, before it disappeared, was HCD Online.)
We found (and I personally verified) the names, addresses, and how-to-contact information for more than 220 producers, agents, and managers who accept unsolicited inquiries from unproduced, unknown screenwriters. I published it in an e-book, “Sell Your Screenplay.” This PDF e-book, which is available at screenwritingcommunity.net for $19.95 (one-time price, not per month–currently discounted to $17.95) tells:
–Exactly how to contact each producer, agent, or manager (mail, email, website, phone);
– The form of contact each one wants (in most cases, a query letter), and
– What kinds of work (genres, TV/film/reality, themes) they seek.
It also includes a section on how to write a query letter, with cites to multiple online “how-to” and “how not to” articles on writing query letters, with examples of good and bad query letters.
Another value of this book is the sections listing producers, agents, and managers who DO NOT accept queries from unknown, unproduced screenwriters. This section is useful two ways: one, it saves new screenwriters from the time, effort, waiting, and disappointment you’re guaranteed to experience by contacting them; two, it is a resource for screenwriters who have been produced or who are represented.
I believe that this is still the only resource of its kind. My friends at The Writers Store have a new directory listing more than 1,000 producers, agents, and managers, selling for $39.95 (see writersstore.com). However, I know for a fact (having looked up several hundred myself) that only a couple hundred producers, agents, and managers accept unsolicited work if you don’t have an agent.
Bill Donovan, former publisher of Creative Screenwriting Magazine
Now living the life of starving writer in the mountains