Amazon, E-Query Updates

Download my LEGENDS OF THE MENEHUNE script at Amazon Studios!

Per my last post, I bit the bullet and entered two of my scripts in the Amazon Studios contest. So far, I haven’t had many downloads or reviews, and no one has bothered to post a revised version — which doesn’t surprise me. That would require reading the script, then doing unpaid writing work. Who has time for that? (Here’s my script link.)

Meanwhile, on screenwriting message boards and blogs, the scathing attacks on Amazon continue unabated. Yeah, the so-called “option” and licensing clauses in their agreement pretty much suck for writers/filmmakers… unless you happen to be one of the winners. In any event, I went ahead and did a mass e-query blast for the LEGENDS OF THE MENEHUNE spec that I submitted to Amazon Studios. If — and it’s a huge thousand-to-one odds “if” — I should get a legit offer for my script as a result of those queries, then I may have a problem. We’ll see what happens.

The e-query went out Mon., Nov. 22 as I requested. My family-friendly script is set at Christmas time, so I wanted to get reads over the holidays when Hollywood shuts down and agents/managers catch up on reading. The downside is I sent it during a short work week when everyone is trying to get out of the office early, which could prompt them to hit the “delete” key extra quick as they scan their emails for “spam” queries.

However, I got nine script requests in the first two days. Not great, but not bad. Some were from bigger management companies and prodcos that I have wanted to contact. And all it takes in this business is ONE person or company to like your stuff. I also received a reply from a book agent, who said she normally doesn’t rep screenwriters but she “liked my pitch” and wanted to take a look at it… as I’ve written in this blog before, I am adapting my scripts into books because I think the odds of getting published are better than selling a movie project. Now I have my foot in the door with a book agent, which was an unexpected bonus.

At the same time, that response from a literary agency shows the pitfalls of mass e-queries. The Script Delivery service I used sent my pitch out to over 6,000 agents, managers and producers in their database for a cost of $80. About a dozen bounced back as either undeliverable (person no longer at that company) or replied that they don’t rep screenwriters.  A few hundred will probably be flagged as spam or automatically deleted as junk mail. That doesn’t bother me. I’m trying to hook just one fish. The nine nibbles I’ve gotten so far are positive signs. Past e-queries I’ve sent out generated script requests months after they went out (in one case a management company asked for a script over a year later — eventually it got recommended to the top partner, who passed on it).

I’m not saying you should try the same approach to marketing your script or book project. Other writers I know used the same e-query services I did and got zero requests. Much of it depends on your pitch. Over on Done Deal and other sites, I keep reading about how you should come up with a standard industry logline approach because that is supposedly what agents or producers want to see. Maybe. Or maybe a pitch that is different might be a way to make your query stand out from the dozens they scan through each day. Below is the e-query I just sent out…

Subject: Big Screen 4-Quad Adventure Script

Take a charmingly cynical British resort developer — say, Hugh Grant or Colin Firth.

Add a group of misfit kids (GOONIES).

Put them in Kauai’s spectacular canyons and jungles, where JURASSIC PARK was filmed.

Have these modern day skeptics encounter the mythical little people of Hawaii, who may actually be a real ‘Lost Tribe’ that time forgot…

And you could have Spielberg’s next IMAX project — well, maybe he’s booked up. But this is a Christmas movie that’s made for big screen 3D live action with CGI creatures. It was a finalist in the Page Awards, beating out over 5,000 entries, and was ranked in the top 5 percent of the Nicholl Fellowship competition.

Here’s the logline:

After being taken captive by a legendary tribe of 3-feet tall Polynesian elves, a Scrooge-like real estate developer and four plucky kids must use the Menehune’s ancient knowledge to avert an environmental catastrophe caused by the developer’s resort expansion plans.

Coincidentally, Disney is opening their new Aulani Resort on Oahu next fall. It’s said that the Menehune will be incorporated into the resort’s theme.

If you’d like to read LEGENDS OF THE MENEHUNE, please contact me directly. I was formerly repped by Cathryn Jaymes, who passed away earlier this year (she was Tarantino’s manager for 10 years), and am seeking new representation.

Thanks for your time!

Rich Figel

Phone: 808-262-5073

P.S. What’s also interesting is there is now evidence that the Menehune may have been real. Here’s a link to a NY Times article about the “Hobbit People”…

What do you think? Would you request the script if you were a Hollywood reader, or pass?

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