TOP TEN WAYS TO GET RESULTS ON GREENLIGHTMYMOVIE.COM
Hollywood is, and never has been, “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.” It takes hard work to succeed in this town. It takes creativity. It takes perseverance. And it takes an outsized ego. (All of which likely explains why most people who succeed in Hollywood are hard-working, persistent creatives with outsized egos.)
The same principles hold true of GreenLightMyMovie.com. Although it’s been said that 90 percent of success is just showing up, getting the attention of jaded agents, producers and studios execs usually requires strategies and tactics of significantly greater sophistication.
Here are ten ways to improve your chances on Greenlightmymovie and get the results you’re looking for:
1. WRITE IN A MARKETABLE GENRE. Hollywood is a castle fortress whose portals are heavily guarded. However, some entrances are less fortified than others. As any military tactician will tell you, you should always attack the point of least resistance. For an unknown writer or filmmaker, this means working in a genre known for films that can be produced cheaply, and that traditionally deliver high returns. Specifically, we’re talking about horror films, thrillers and comedies. Most of today’s top filmmakers and TV showrunners got their first break working in these genres. Today, web series are serving as platforms for many mainstream aspirants, especially comedy writers. Whatever the medium, these genres tend to represent minimal financial investments, yet as a percentage of their budgets, produce profits many times greater than even the biggest studio blockbusters. Showing you can write effectively on a budget will immediately put you in demand.
2. TIME YOUR RELEASE TO MEET MARKET DEMANDS. Every year, toymakers hold off releasing their newest products until after September 1, when they know demand will be strongest. Hollywood studios schedule their big-budget tentpole premieres in late spring and Thanksgiving-thru-Christmas, because that’s when their audiences tend to buy tickets in greatest numbers. Likewise, you should post your pitch to coincide with times of greatest demand for the genre in which you’re writing. That tends to be right after a similar film makes a huge splash at the weekend box office. How can you time your release so finely? Check the industry trades for studio release schedules. They tend to be published weeks, if not months, in advance. If you’ve written a comedy, wait until a comedy is scheduled to open and then watch the reviews and box office numbers closely. If the comedy is a hit over the weekend, release your comedy pitch Monday. If it’s a bomb, the genre will temporarily be poison, so hold off until the next comedy is due to arrive, and repeat the process. The same holds true for all other genres. In show business, timing is everything.
3. SUBMIT A PROFESSIONAL SYNOPSIS A synopsis is a two-to-three page narrative rendition of your screenplay or teleplay. It tells the story in the order events are intended to take place on screen. For screenplays, the three “acts” occupy roughly the same 25%-50%-25% proportions as they do in your actual script. For a TV or web series, it sets up the premise, describes the principal characters and outlines a number of proposed episodes. The voice is always third-person present tense, with a focus on action, personality and motivation. Ultimately, a synopsis answers a reader’s key questions: Who are the characters? What is the central problem? What happens? How does it end? Avoid all editorializing and commentary. Don’t pitch this as the Next Great Studio Blockbuster or Emmy nominee. Do mention if there are any attachments or if the piece has won any significant awards. Keep it lean and mean.
4. EMPHASIZE THE IRONY. When writing your logline — the one- or two-sentence description of your premise — make sure an element of irony is present and obvious. Hollywood VIPs can’t resist an ironic premise. Give ’em what they want! One only has to turn to each week’s Top 10 box office performers to find proof that, in Hollywood, irony sells. Here are some recent examples:
RIDE ALONG – He loves her. Her brother hates him.
LONE SURVIVOR – America’s super-soldiers get their asses kicked by backward peasants.
FROZEN – Love forces two sisters to live in isolation from each other.
AMERICAN HUSTLE – Con artists go to work for the FBI.
Irony often drives TV series premises as well. For example:
BREAKING BAD – Famously pitched as “Mr. Chips becomes Scarface.”
MODERN FAMILY – A rich, “old school” patriarch contends with his extended family, which now includes his much younger, hot-tempered Columbian wife, his neurotic married daughter, and his openly gay son and his domestic partner.
THE BLACKLIST – The world’s most wanted criminal volunteers to become the FBI’s most valuable asset.
THE WALKING DEAD – Survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse find the humans who remain can be just as dangerous — and deadly — as the flesh-eating undead who have overrun the planet.
We could do this all day….
5. PROOFREAD YOUR PITCH. And then do it again. Nothing turns off a prospective producer or agent (and makes them stop reading) faster than incorrect spelling, grammar, punctuation and typos. Such errors suggest a writer who is amateurish, sloppy and unprofessional. They all pull the reader out of your story. And once they’re out, you have to work twice as hard to pull them back in.
6. ADD VIDEO. Film is a visual medium. For decades, filmmakers told stories with pictures alone. For decades, professional screenwriters/filmmakers used hand-drawn storyboards, mock posters and other illustrations to market their visions. (Ralph McQuarrie’s classic pre-production paintings were key to helping young George Lucas sell the original Star Wars to 20th Century Fox.) Today, low-cost video technology and software makes it relatively easy to shoot and edit short videos, create preliminary storyboards or produce animations that support elements of your pitch. Hollywood decision-makers often find it easier to grasp a film’s potential through images rather than words, so let your pictures do the talking.
If you don’t have a visual to include, record a video pitch or introduction of yourself using your webcam. You’ll find Greenlightmymovie’s record button at the top of your submission page. Hollywood VIPs like to know who they will be in business with and whether or not they can put you in a room with other Hollywood VIPs.
7. GET A VALUABLE ATTACHMENT. An attachment is a person, be it an actor, director, screenwriter, producer, etc., who has already committed to the project. For example, if Brad Pitt says he wants to appear in your film, this will no doubt increase your chances of making a sale. Significantly. How do you get an attachment of any real value? Sometimes it’s a matter of exploiting personal connections. Sometimes it’s sheer force-of-will. Sometimes it’s just dumb luck. But be careful. Attachments can be assets or deficits, depending on who the attachment is and what a potential buyer feels about him/her. While Brad Pitt may be a coveted attachment, people may not be so crazy about, say, Pauley Shore. So attach wisely. You can also use Greenlightmymovie for attachments by first submitting to the actor and director companies on the site prior to producers and agents/managers.
8. CAREFULLY CHOOSE YOUR VIPs. We’ve provided you information about what each production company is looking for currently on the site. Take this information seriously when selecting the VIPS to submit to. You might think a production company famous for action flicks will want your action flick because they’ve made action flicks, but if their profile states they are now only looking for romantic comedies, you’ll be wasting your time — and theirs.
9. HAVE A FLEXIBLE STRATEGY. You’ve no doubt heard that Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” By this measure, trying to sell the same project to the same people over and over again is not only an exercise in futility, but perhaps madness. Use every rejection as a learning experience. If you keep running up against the same objections, perhaps it’s time to consider revising your pitch or creating a new one from scratch. Maybe you should be looking at television instead of feature films, or vice versa. Maybe you should consider a web series before setting your sights on a network deal. Or perhaps you should appeal directly to producers instead of agents; if a producer wants your project, he/she can certainly help you find representation. Yes, persistence is wonderful, but to quote Emerson, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Or in the words of another sage, “When nine Russians tell you you’re drunk, maybe it’s time to sit down.”
10. LEARN TO ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES. Anyone trying to make a living in Hollywood needs to get to love the word “No” because you’re going to hear it a lot. Even the town’s top filmmakers get rejected more than they get greenlit. And multiply that exponentially for B- and C-listers. In a way, trying to break into the business is a dating experience. You’re looking for a like-minded individual with whom you’re going to settle down and make babies. And as we all know from our experiences in the dating trenches, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you ever find a prince. Your dating skills will come in very handy as you try to survive life in the Hollywood trenches. Roll with the punches and keep your eyes on the prize. All it takes is one “Yes” to make magic happen.
CONTACT US. It’s been five weeks and still no response? Normal turnaround time is approximately 14 business days or 3-4 weeks. [Note: More popular companies can take longer depending on the amount of submissions on their Playlist.] If you have not received a response in this timeframe, let us know so we can send the VIP a reminder or find out, if a response was emailed to you, why you didn’t receive it.