The rules have definitely changed in many ways, but for newbie screenwriters (and even those with more experience but no representation) they’ve also stayed the same. Below is an industry-wide take (from the Wall Street Journal) on how the pandemic has and will continue to shape the movie/TV making process. It’s good reading for a general idea of what that means for screenwriters. However, what does it really mean?
Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Hollywood has a backlog of movies to be released, so that has slowed down their need to find more material and get new projects in the works. BUT deals are still being made and new projects are once again being setup.
- Who’s working? Mostly the A-listers. This is a unique time, as everyone’s schedule was freed up. Sure, the stars and producers that everyone wants to work with have projects that will pop back into place, but not all of them can. There are filming restrictions everywhere. But those in-demand talent want to work. Now is a unique time for them to setup something completely new and film ASAP. That NEVER happens for certain talent. They usually have a waiting list of YEARS. So, the first deals will go to them.
- Most screenplays were written before the pandemic. At least the ones that are in the hands of managers and agents, bouncing around town and looking for homes. Pre-COVID scripts could be very hard to film, for awhile. More contained, fewer actors, fewer locations scripts are needed. If you can pivot and write a script like that, or if you already have a low budget script, now’s a great time to pitch it.
- Producers are easier to reach right now. (By easy, I mean reading emails that they might have once skipped.) However, this window is closing. If you have the perfect script for the perfect producer now is the perfect time to reach out and email pitch them in a very professional way.
- Streaming services are the hungriest of all. They are worth a deep-dive to find a way to pitch. Whether you have a movie or TV project, what they are looking for is pretty much the same across the board. They want projects that will bring in new subscribers in specific demographics: young adult, female and diverse. Of course, what they are looking for is fluid, but those three demographics will be valid for the rest of the year.
Bottomline? You should be writing. So, keep writing, keep finding ways to pitch and don’t let a little thing like a pandemic stop you. Hollywood still needs your talent!