Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Art of the Pitch, Part Two, Or, The Database

The pitch for my new script "Judy" continues and I am enjoying it quite a bit.

You need two things for a good pitch: A good pitch letter and a good database.

I am very proud of my database.

I bought a fabulous address program for my PC by Parsons Technology back in 2002 and I started adding information about production companies. My main source of information were the absolutely essential Hollywood Creative Directory guides. Unfortunately, in the old days, I was somewhat simple minded and bought the hard copies of the guides which meant I had to type in all the contact information for the various production companies, distributors and agents that interested me. Now, I subscribe online to the Hollywood Creative directory and simply copy and pasted the information into program. The subscription is a tad expensive, but it is well worth it. It's so much easier.

Every time I see or hear about an interesting film along the lines of something I am working on, or in a genre that I plan to work in, I add the production companies to my database. Before long, I had well over a thousand companies divided into many categories based on the type of films they made. Chick flicks. Horror. Thrillers. Low budget. High budget. Independent. Cable. Of course, it is very difficult keeping the list updated, but, if you wanted to do something easy, you wouldn't be trying to make a living in the movie business. Still, the tools are readily available now. The Hollywood Creative Directory, coupled with the IMDB, will definitely help you fine tune the people who need to see you script. (Also, don't forget That is a great source for industry email addresses!)

What do I do? Mainly email query letters -- despite the fact that email queries are probably the least likely to get through to the intended targets. Generally, about twenty-or-thirty percent of the email addresses turn out to be invalid. And God only knows how many of the queries that don't bounce back to me end up in spam folders. If I get one get one request for a read out of thirty emails, I feel like I'm doing pretty good. The "Judy" pitch is doing great. I believe I am averaging one request for every ten valid email addresses I hit. If I was sitting at my PC, I could give you the exact percentage. I have arranged my database to supply me with that information. With a couple clicks of the mouse I can see who I approached with each of my scripts, and who requested it, and who didn't.

In a sense, whenever I pitch a new script, I get an overview of my pitch history. It's amazing. There are a couple companies that I have pitched three or four scripts since 2002 without receiving any response whatsoever, only to get requests this time. Persistence pays off! Someone with a lower threshold for rejection than me would have given up on them years ago.

Of course, not everyone can be reached via email. I usually send those folks faxes. It's funny. When I started it out, it was almost cheaper to send out a query letter via the mail than a fax, but, with today's long distance rates and the rising costs of stamps, it is much cheaper for me to send faxes. Right now, with "Judy," I am still in the email stage. Hopefully, it will not be necessary to resort to faxes.

I am currently not seeking an agent, but, if I were, I would mail out old-fashioned query letters. In my experience, agents are more likely to respond to them. It's tradition.

Of course, not everyone responds to my over the transom approach. I have had no luck whatsoever getting any response from the major broadcast networks, the seven major studios, or the uppermost tier of A-list production companies.

Oh well. You can't win 'em all.

Who reads? Practically everyone else. Including people who put out big, theatrical features.

BTW, I want to give a shout out to producer and computer whiz Matt Richards. My old PC failed a couple of months ago taking my program and database with it. I, of course, fell into a deep depression. Thankfully, Matt was able to restore the program and the data.


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