What’s in your peritia scripturae*?

This is just the resume pile. You should see the submitted spec script room.

An acquaintance recently told me about a small production company seeking material, and they (the acquaintance) thought one of my scripts might be a good match for it.

“Great!” I responded. “What do they need?”

“Your synopsis (with a logline), along with your writing resume. If they like what they see, they’ll ask for the script.”

Hold on one second. I had the synopsis, but a writing resume? Never heard of that before, let alone including it with the script material. Did such a thing even exist? What would it even look like? Was this some new trend of which I was unaware?

Apparently they do exist, but based on my experience and research, it sounds like being asked to provide one happens very, very rarely.

You’re probably thinking “Couldn’t they just look you up on IMDB Pro?” They could, but that doesn’t contain all my relevant details and information.

But this place wanted a resume, so I had to put one together. What to put on it?

I looked up what I could for “writer’s resume”, but got a lot of non-screenwriting-related information and examples. This resulted in a lot of tinkering around and adapting the best I could.

It all boils down to listing all of your screenwriting and screenwriting-related experience, along with any applicable accomplishments. Many writers with a personal website or blog have a page featuring some kind of version of it.

I wasn’t a produced writer, except for a writing credit on somebody else’s film school short, so I could mention that. Plus some material I’d written and filmed years ago as part of a freelance assignment which at last check was still available on YouTube.

Some of my scripts have won awards in reputable competitions. I listed the titles and their assorted results.

I included being a reader for a few screenwriting contests. (True!)

Oh yeah. THIS BLOG. Been going strong for years, plus a few accolades along the way. This triggered the realization that I could use some other screenwriting-related materials I’d written.

Turns out I had a somewhat decent amount of material to work with.

A little editing and revising, and off it went, along with the one-pager.

Unfortunately, the prodco passed. Not because of my lack of experience, but the script “just wasn’t what they were looking for.” No big surprise and no big deal.

But now I have a writer’s resume, which I keep updated. Chances are nobody’ll ever ask for it again, but I’m glad I put it together and have it ready to go. Just in case. Stranger things have happened.

There’s no doubt that some follow-up thoughts and comments to this will be of a “this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard” nature. And in some ways, I totally agree. But I chalk it up to just adding another tool to your arsenal of self-marketing materials. It took all of 15-20 minutes to put it together, so no harm done.

Normally, this would be the end of the post, but part of the reason I wrote about this is there are always writers on assorted online forums seeking feedback from other writers, and they get a lot of volunteers eager to offer up their two cents.

While it’s great that somebody’s so willing to help you out, what if their level of experience isn’t similar to yours? What if you’ve written ten scripts, and they’ve written two? Or still working on their first one? How much value would you give their notes?

It’s not a bad thing to ask somebody about their writing experience. It’s also not the best idea to ask a bunch of strangers to give you notes. You’re much better off building and developing strong professional relationships. Most seasoned writers don’t seem to have a problem discussing their experience.

So the next time somebody you’re not too familiar with says they’d be more than happy to give you notes on your script, don’t feel bad asking them how much experience they’ve had.

Or you could even ask to see their writing resume.

*Latin for “writing experience”.

Don’t let this cool, calm & collected exterior fool you…

...because this is what's inside
…because this is how I’m feeling on the inside.

The hunt for representation is underway. Again.

But this round feels quite different.

Maybe this is the experience talking, but my best guess would be that it’s from taking my time and reminding myself there’s absolutely no need to rush through it. These folks aren’t going anywhere, so taking a few more days to properly prepare won’t make much of a difference.

But it is making a huge difference for me.

I’ve got two exceptionally long lists of names and emails, but each is several years old, which requires some admittedly exhausting investigating through multiple levels of IMDBPro into how accurate and up-to-date the information is. Don’t have a subscription to it? You should.

Time, determination, patience and persistence are the four essentials in this scenario.

A lot of time has been spent tracking down where some of those names have ended up. While most are still at the same organization, a good many have moved on. Some to new places, some who’ve gone out on their own, and, from what I can gather, some have totally abandoned ship (including one guy who fell into the deep end of the cliche pool and now sells real estate).

My favorite one so far has been the manager who passed away several years ago, yet is still listed. Just their name and nothing else. I’ve no doubt that at this very moment, somewhere out there, a query email is working its way to them.

The last couple of times I sent out a massive wave of queries, it was in a very rushed and impatient way. “This has to go out NOW!” After finding an email address, I’d immediately cut-and-paste the body of the letter and hit ‘send’. Nothing else. I’d estimate about 75% of them went through, while the remaining 25% came back as ‘undeliverable’ or “address not found”. Those would be immediately dismissed. Over the next few days and weeks, maybe a few responses would trickle in; say 1 for every 10-15 sent. Not the best of returns.

But again, this time it’s different as I’m trying to be been much, much more thorough. Do they even accept queries? What sort of material do they specialize in? Sending to someone who specializes in horror would be a waste of time for both of us. When was their last project? Have I heard of any of their projects? How many clients do they have? What are some of their clients known for? (One place lists Rod Serling(!) as their top client. Interpret that however you want.) They still use Hotmail? Is that even still a thing?

So while I spend part of my time developing a workable list of query letter recipients, I’m also focusing on assembling the actual letter that will be sent. Type ‘screenwriting query letter’ in any reputable search engine, and you get page upon page of links to articles, columns, blogposts and so on. There are countless opinions about what should and should not be in there. Pay attention to those. I tend to favor short and to the point, but effective enough that it gets you noticed and hopefully piques their interest.

It’s pretty likely I’ll crank out a few drafts of this as well before finding one that I think works best.

Like writing the script itself, it ain’t easy. None of this is. But it’s what I have to do in order to make things happen and move ’em forward.

(And if anybody knows a manager they’d recommend or think might be interested in taking a look at my stuff, feel free to point them in this direction. Much obliged.)