You’ve just finished putting the final touches on your query letter and you’re now ready to send it out to agents and producers to pitch your screenplay.

Your plan is to email as many agents and producers as possible with the hope that you will be able to generate as much interest in your script as possible.

You send your query letter off and wait to see what kind of responses you’ll get…

Does Your Query Letter Grab Attention?

Now imagine you’re a screenplay agent and you’re sitting at your desk and you decide to check your emails.

You scan your inbox and see a bunch of emails from different people. One of the emails has the subject line: “Query Letter” another email’s subject is “Movie Submission” and another one is titled “Movie Script”. Oh, wait. There’s an interesting looking email. The subject stands out: “Query for Inspirational Drama.” That sounds great. You know a producer who is looking for an inspirational and powerful drama at this very moment. The agent clicks on the email and opens it up.

Never underestimate the importance of using a well written subject line to grab a producer or agent’s attention.

It’s the same as writing a killer headline in advertising. You don’t want to have some lame headline advertising your product as it will do little to inspire people and it will almost definitely fail to grab anyone’s attention.

Instead, you want to focus on making your subject lines as interesting and as eye-catching as possible.

A Great Subject Line Generates Clicks

People need a reason to take action. Agents and producers are no different. They need a reason to click on your email and to read your query letter. The subject line is one great way to get people interested in reading your query letter.

I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve seen query letters with a subject line that reads:

“Query Letter”
“Movie Submission”
“Movie Script”
“Query”

This tells the person receiving your email nothing about who you are or what your script is all about. Instead, you want to write a subject line that is short and powerful and generates interest. Don’t worry, this is nowhere near as difficult as it seems.

There are, in fact, a couple of ways to achieve this. One great way to write a powerful subject line is to focus on what kind of genre your screenplay is. For example:

Query for Inspirational Drama
Frathouse Comedy Screenplay
Award Winning Sci-Fi Screenplay
Romantic Comedy by Published Author
Intergalactic War - Sci-Fi Script

Another way to bring your subject line to life is to focus on the type of screenplay and story your script is by comparing it to other successful movies. For example:

Query - Jaws Even Bigger and Badder
Query - Interstellar meets Gravity
Screenplay - 300 meets Saving Private Ryan

A final great way to write a powerful subject line is to focus on what you or your screenplay has accomplished that can give extra credibility to your script and make people want to read your query letter.

War Screenplay by Vietnam Veteran
Prison Drama by Former Convict
Query - Midnight Murder (Award Winning Script)
Historical Screenplay by Published Author
Horror Script by Experienced Writer

(Note: whether you use “Query”, “Screenplay Query”, “Script” or “Screenplay” in your subject line is personal preference and entirely up to you.)

It is, however, important to put a little time and effort into your subject line. After all, you’ve spent many hours writing your screenplay and crafting a great query letter, it seems crazy not to invest a fraction of that time into putting together a decent subject line that will grab an agent or producer's attention and make them want to read more…

*Jennifer Sloane has worked as a screenplay agent in Los Angeles and Nashville for the last five years. Jennifer loves good movies, music and animals. A former television and movie executive, Jennifer currently heads business development at Script Mailer (a company that connects screenwriters with agents and producers in Hollywood).

One question I get asked a lot is how long it takes for an agent or producer to respond to a query letter. A lot of screenwriters put together their query letter and don’t know how long it’s going to take before an agent or producer will get back to them with a response. It’s also important to know how an agent or producer will respond once they get back to you.

The most important thing to remember is that your response rate will always vary depending on the type of script that you’ve written. If you’ve written a very commercial story with an attractive idea, you have a much higher chance of getting your screenplay represented or purchased by a producer. On the flip side, you will have a lower response rate if your story is less commercial and more of a quirky independent type of movie.

A screenplay that falls into one of the more common commercial categories such as action/comedy/romance/comedy/horror/thriller is much more appealing to an agent or producer than a movie that is focused on some other off-beat topic that is less entertaining and more of a niche category. If you have a more commercial screenplay on your hands then you are more likely to receive an immediate response from agents and producers who will feel as though your work is more commercial and they have will have a higher chance of getting your screenplay made into a movie.

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When you’re trying to sell your screenplay to Hollywood, it’s important to think about how you can touch and move an agent or producer to buy your script with only limited time available.

Time is a precious resource and there is no other industry on the planet with a shorter attention span than Hollywood. The industry is like one big kid suffering from ADD. That’s why it’s so important to be able to capture interest in your screenplay in the fastest, most direct way possible.

Now it’s no secret that human beings are visual creatures. We have evolved over the centuries to respond to visual stimuli. The problem with this is that screenplays aren’t visual mediums. They are simply the blueprint to a visual medium.

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In this article I’d like to talk about turning your screenplay into an actual published book/novel. Yes, it is possible to do and it’s also very easy to accomplish. But first, why would you want to do this?

Turning your screenplay into a book is a great marketing strategy as well. Not only does it give you the instant ability to get your story out there into the world (while you wait for the movie to be made), but having your script turned into a book has the following benefits:

- You get your book and story published.
- You can reach a wider audience.
- You can start to make money with your story.
- You get more fans and supporters of your work.
- It’s easier to convince Hollywood to invest in you.
- Agents and producers will be much more interested to read your script if you already have a book version of the story published.
- Agents, producers and Hollywood executives are constantly checking Amazon looking for the next great story to turn into a movie.

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In this article I’d like to talk about how to write a script that Hollywood wants. Now there is a big difference between writing a script that Hollywood wants and a script that you want to write. I’ve seen a lot of talented screenwriters get derailed by making this error on a regular basis.

In this article, you'll discover...

- What kind of movies 80% of people want to watch.
- How to focus on your audience.
- Write a screenplay that agents and producers will love.

In this article I’d like to talk about a great (and easy) technique that screenwriters can use to write a great screenplay.

When I used to work as an agent, screenwriters would always ask me the secret to success when it came to writing a great screenplay.

At first I had no idea how to respond to this question. All the successful screenwriters that I knew had found success in different ways. Their writing techniques were all drastically different and they wrote their screenplays in dramatically different ways.

Some screenwriters like to use more of an organic approach and write their screenplays in a fluid way, writing their screenplays as they go with no plan or structure. These screenwriters then cut their script later on.

Other screenwriters like to plan their screenplay out from beginning to end and work everything out first before they put pen to paper.

Both of these techniques can be effective in their own way. But there is one technique that I’ve seen used by some of the most successful screenwriters that seems to produce the highest quality writing overall.

This technique was also used by Sylvester Stallone among many others. And in case you’re tempted to write Sylvester Stallone off as just a muscle bound action star of the 80s and 90s, think again…

Sylvester Stallone is an incredibly talented writer and story teller. He wrote the Rocky movies and the Rambo movies as well as a whole host of other movies. He even won the academy award for best screenplay for Rocky.

I remember going to a black tie event in Hollywood for screenwriters once and Sylvester Stallone was there. He gave a speech about writing screenplays and working in Hollywood that was more inspirational than technical. But one thing he did say really stood out.

Stallone told the assembled audience that when he wrote his screenplays he listed every single event of every character in his story from beginning to end.

This included his characters going to the bathroom, taking a shower, going to sleep, making love, meeting a girl, getting something to eat… every single detail as this was the essence of life. Then, after a couple of events, he would state: this character has a problem... it could be emotional, physical, psychological, financial, but they have a problem.

Stallone’s list would look something like this:

- Rocky wakes up.
- Rocky has breakfast.
- Rocky goes to work.
- Rocky has a problem.

Now there’s one thing that Stallone understands better than most other screenwriters out there. That is, conflict is the essence of story and all great stories are packed with conflict.

Stallone then said he would leave his list to sit for a week or two and then come back to it, asking himself this one question on each event on his list.

How can I make this event/situation as interesting as possible?

- Rocky wakes up (how can I make this interesting? Rocky wakes up, half-asleep and crashess into the bedside table).
- Rocky has breakfast (how can I make this interesting? Rocky doesn’t eat an ordinary breakfast, he cracks three raw eggs into a glass and drinks it).
- Rocky goes to work (how can I make this interesting? Rocky doesn’t have a regular job, he actually works for a loan shark.)
- Rocky has a problem (how can I make this interesting? Rocky is broke and has no money).

As you can see, the process is incredibly simple but it generates fantastic story telling.

It’s hard to go wrong when you make every turn and event in your screenplay as interesting as possible, filled with tension and conflict and drama.

For a great video on the making of Rocky told by Sly Stallone himself, you can check out the following video on YouTube.

If you’re trying to write a great screenplay, or improve the quality of your script, which is a must if you want to get the interest of agents and producers, then this technique is probably the best and easiest way to create a great screenplay that I've seen.


*Jennifer Sloane has worked as a screenplay agent in Los Angeles and Nashville for the last five years. Jennifer loves good movies, music and animals. A former television and movie executive, Jennifer currently heads business development at Script Mailer (a company that connects screenwriters with agents and producers in Hollywood).

A lot of the time when people contact agents and producers, and they have a really great script on their hands, they get a response asking them to submit a release form (sometimes referred to as a non-disclosure agreement or NDA).

So in this post I’d like to talk a little bit about what a release form is and what you need to be aware of when you send a release form off to an agent or producer. Don’t worry, it’s nothing scary, you just need to be aware of what a release form is.

In simple terms, a release form is a legal instrument that terminates any legal liability between the person sending the release form (in this case, you, the screenwriter) and the releasee (the agent or producer).

Why A Release Form Is Often Required

A release form is often required by an agent or producer simply because the agent or producer wants to protect themselves from any future liability when handling your script.

Agents and producers handle so many screenplays that they open themselves up to liability if a screenwriter believes that at some point their screenplay has been ripped off and their story has been stolen.

You only have to look at other successful writers (like JK Rowling) and other successful Hollywood screenwriters who are often sued (without success) when their movie becomes popular and successful at the box office.

One screenwriter I know was sued after his screenplay was turned into a movie. His agent was also sued because the man who filed the lawsuit claimed that he had shown the agent a similar script and story to the movie that was just made. However, the agent was able to prove through his email trail that he had known about the other screenwriter's screenplay six months before this man had even contacted him. (It would have also helped in this situation to have a release form in place to expedite any legal issues and disputes.)

Is It Safe To Sign A Release Form?

Before you sign a release form and send it to a producer or an agent you need to be aware of what you are signing.

The best kind of release form, in my view, is one that simply gives permission for an agent or producer to read your script and that also acknowledges your rights as the screenwriter as well as the producer or agent's rights as well.

That being said, if you’re ever in any doubt about anything that you come across on the release form, then you don’t need to sign it immediately. Instead, my best advice is to consult with an attorney and make sure that this is something that is safe to sign.

Posted by on in Screenwriters

This article will show you an easy way to help train yourself to write great dialogue (a crucial skill that not many writers are good at).

Writing dialogue is one of the most essential skills when it comes to writing a great screenplay. It’s also one of the hardest skills to master.

While I worked as an agent I used to get screenplays all the time from screenwriters who had put together excellent stories that were well structured, interesting and had excellent narrative description. But there was something missing… something important… you guessed it, the dialogue just didn’t work.

Posted by on in Screenwriters

If you want to write a screenplay that agents want, a screenplay that lights up the page and makes agents take notice, then you first need to appreciate what exactly screenplay agents are looking for in a script.

In this article, I’d like to talk about the main things you need to do to get agents (and producers for that matter) to want your script.

Of course writing an engaging and interesting screenplay is important, but if you really want to write a script that agents want then you need to know what buttons to press to make an agent want to represent you.

(The following list is in no particular order of importance.)

Write A Script With A Strong Main Character

You can write a great screenplay, but that doesn’t mean that your script has one great character in it. Some movies have multiple main characters, which can be wonderful but it makes it much harder to convince a big name Hollywood actor to be in your movie.

Don’t forget that Hollywood actors are focused on starring in movies that will elevate their careers and make them look more appealing to their audience.

Big name Hollywood actors want to be “the hero” in the movie, or at the very least—the main focus of the movie. If you can write a script with a great main character then it will be much easier for an agent to package and sell your script to a well-known actor.

Write A Script That Has An Audience Already

This is incredibly attractive to screenplay agents if you can do this. If you can write a script that already has a built in audience then agents will be very interested in your work. So what are some great examples of stories with a built in audience:

— A screenplay based on an already published book/comic/magazine article/viral Internet post.
— A script based on a true story.
— A script based on a well-known myth or legend.
— A screenplay based on a work in the public domain.

If your screenplay has any of these elements, then your script will be very appealing to agents because your story already has a built in audience that will rush to the movies to see any new story about the characters and incidents that they’ve already heard so much about.

In this follow up article on how to market and sell your screenplay, I’d like to talk about another great underutilized strategy that you can use to promote your script.

This method is simple and free, despite what many people will tell you. One of the best ways to showcase your screenplay and your talents as a screenwriter is to setup your own website.

There seems to be a great fear among screenwriters when it comes to leveraging and harnessing the power of modern technology. But make no mistake, we live in 21st Century and this Century has been transformed by the Internet. The Internet has become so powerful and influential that you can no longer afford to ignore it.