Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Art of the Pitch, Part One, Or, Batting For Singles

I'm pitching a script again -- and enjoying every minute of it.

I am currently pitching a script called "Judy," written with director Lee Bonner, to production companies. Will it sell? Who knows? But people are reading it, and that's a good first step.

But, you say, I thought production companies didn't read scripts unless they arrived via an agent or lawyer. That's not entirely true. If your goal is make a $150,000,000 star vehicle, then you're right. The people who make those films will probably not read your script unless it comes to them from CAA, but, if you're like me, and your goals are less lofty then you will get some reads if people like your pitch.

I would love it if someone wanted to spend $150,000,000 making "Judy," but, even if I were William Goldman, I don't think it would happen. I know this is not the kind of tentpole film studios want to produce. When you subtract the remakes, sequels, and films based on books, you'll see that there is little opportunity at the majors for spec scripts by unknowns, or near unknowns. (Except for comedy.)

Back in the olden days, when I was represented by the late, great Stu Robinson, first at Robinson Weintraub and Gross and then later at Paradigm, I always felt I had a shot at the brass ring with the type of scripts I was writing: dramas with a strong, but understated, sense of humor. Stu was very supportive. He got me great rejection letters from Hollywood notables, like Barry Levinson and Richard Zanuck. (Lee Bonner knows Barry Levinson, and, when I got the rejection letter from him, Lee verified that it was indeed Levinson's signature.) A number of people in Hollywood enjoyed my script "The Long Drive," and I came extremely close to selling my next script "The Fourth Mrs. Jones." Then Stu died, leaving me an orphan, representation-wise.

I have made half-hearted attempts to get an agent since then, however, I have been reasonably content sending pitches around myself because of my new strategy of batting for singles. Real Hollywood, the majors, only make a few films a year, but tons of movies are made each year by smaller production companies and cable networks. Those are the people I am trying to reach. Lifetime. Hallmark. SyFy. They all make movies. Lots of them. They don't pay a million dollars per script, but they do pay. And I think they should be paying me.

The rest of you screenwriters out there can swing for the fences. I'm just aiming for a few infield hits.

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