I am a pre-pro writer with three solid scripts (one was a Chesterfield semi-finalist) but no agent. A good friend’s next-door neighbor is the CEO of a small but successful film studio. The CEO is essentially a line a credit and probably doesn’t have much creative control, but I imagine he’d be willing to pass along my work to someone within his company. I want to take advantage of this seeming opportunity but am unsure how best to proceed. What can I reasonably ask for from this contact?
Ryan from Pennsylvania
Having the attention of the CEO of a successful studio is a good thing. Don’t assume he (or she) is not involved in creative decisions. A number of studio heads have built careers on creative vision.
You can ask for a number of things:
First, you can ask if he can refer you to an agent. Referrals are the best way to obtain an agent. If the CEO does not know any agents, ask him to introduce you to the development execs at his company. They certainly know agents. Let them know you’d like to find a beginning agent with a good agency who people in the industry really like.
Second, you can ask him if he will assist you in submitting your script to his studio. Get his candid opinion on whether you should bring it straight in through him or whether you should submit it through a producer. If he prefers the latter, ask him to introduce you to a producer that might submit it. Producers regularly submit scripts they do not own to studios on behalf of writers with the informal understanding that if the studio buys the script, the producer will be attached to produce it for the studio.
Third, you can ask him to mentor you with respect to career development. Obviously, you will not want to ask this until you have some feel for whether his mentorship will be helpful. If you believe it will be, he may be open to this. Many high level executives appreciate the acknowledgement and opportunity to share their experience and make a difference for up-and-comers. Even if you do not feel comfortable asking him to mentor you, at least ask him if you can contact him from time to time if you have industry questions. This is one way to build relationships and writing careers are all about relationships. If he says, “yes,” get his contact information including email and be sure to follow up so you do, in fact, build a relationship.
Good luck with the studio head.