you've got to the
point where you realize you are going to have to get a marquee actor in
your film to;
Get the budget you need to make this
b) Attract a large enough audience so the film gets seen.
Unless of course you can call up the actor and hand him the script
because he's your poker buddy,
find out where he is, and how do you get
him a script? Well, finding out where is the easy part; call
Actors Guild and ask them for contact information for the actor in
Now the proverbial ka ka hits the fan.
I hate the agent system.
actor finally proves
himself in some arena in which people can see his work and then he's
isolated from the good scripts because his agent doesn't see a
percentage for himself or the 'commercial potential' of a script. Take
it or leave it, that's how things work with
agents. They are not necessarily bad people, doing their job entails
the superficial tripe of Hollywood, it's not about the actors but about
money in which the agents can get for their actors, and of course,
10% (some of them get 20%). Yep, it blows.
Recently I've been shopping a project around, take heed, learn
from my mistakes.
First of all,
producer and director is just bad news, unless of course you have a
commercially successful film under your belt. Even if
your films have had phenomenal critical success in their limited
bench mark), unless your name is thought of with
Miramax or October, you are NOBODY. You must find a producer that you
Don't minimize this attribute, he may have millions at his disposal but
rip you off for your work, sell you down the pike for money or just be
greedy that his involvement could ruin your film even if he gets it
If you get 10 mil to make a film and it turns out to be a piece of
who loses? Not the producer, (Who asks "Who produced it?"?) not the
("What could they do with material like that") - the director. Yep,
you babe. I don't know how to tell you how to find this person.
it's somebody you have some connection with, and that reads your work
as well as you do. He has to be one of your fans, with ideas of his/her
It's a collaboration, a marriage, your Carlo Ponti or whom ever you
as being a goo
producer but it's hardly
ever the person waving money in your face with a double digit IQ. Not
it couldn't be, but it hardly ever is.
you have somebody else telling the world
great you are, you already have credibility with whomever they are
talking to by proxy.
YOU are not telling them how great YOU are, someone else is extolling
virtues. THAT MEANS A LOT. That means that already somebody else
in you, SOPHOMORIC BUT NOT SUBTLE OR DISMISSIVE.
One of my producers is a guy who has just lived through some horrible
melodrama in which he lost his business, his money, his house, his
girlfriend of 7 years and he owes the IRS some million or so dollars.
The guy was a
walking country western song for so long he was beginning to make me
However, when I met him, he still thought he was up, he got it, he
the work and we made some connection. I saw through his bad, and I do
bad times, and
he has worked very hard trying to get my
film to screen. He's a younger man than I, he has a tendency towards
arrogance, twerpism, and doesn't know what to do at times, but, I
showed a guy that
likes my work, and was smart, how to deal in straight business terms
be interested in
my work, and the guy has taken the ball and run with it. He has the
potential to be a great producer, and I
will always be grateful for our
is what I told him to do.
First of all, I knew I had a good script . Do You? Are You Sure? Is it
Perfect? Well? OK then, who are absolutely the best actors, bar none,
that you would like to see in the parts? No, Mel Gibson cannot play a
year old junkie on the streets of Moscow. But who could? No, Tommy Lee
can't do it. GET REAL.
is the most
important part of
your film. Even if you were to get it to Mel Gibson, would he even
consider doing a 22 year olds part? Don't be stupid, who could do this
OK, you've narrowed the casting down to 8 people, or couples that could
do the part, what next?
and find out who represents them. Now
where a little creative publicity comes in. I don't know what you've
but I've had some pretty good reviews, we wrote a letter of
and included some clippings from reviews, 1 sheets, and production
interest with the letter and just sent it to the people involved
managers etc.). Accentuate the positive, build up whatever you've done
make it look as good as possible without sounding like you are, like
the actor might like to work with.
THEIR NAME RIGHT
Simple courtesy, I screw it up all the time, unintentionally, with a
name like mine I've learned to forgive people their poor spelling, but
not regular people, awful lot of self inflated ego you have to deal
with. Spell their name right, you need them on your side.
send them a synopsis. A 2 line
might be better in your intro letter. They won't read your script if
don't like the synopsis. They probably won't read your script anyway,
on the agent. Some are stereotypes, some have triple digit IQ's and
some concern for their clients, most will not read the script because
are busy and will have it 'covered', or can't read, or you are nobody.
Write an introduction letter to
actor you want.
. Send them a script only when
they request it,
it will get sent back or thrown away.
. Follow up calls - 2 a week - It
will take weeks to
response, usually, don't get too antsy and
a pest. 1st they will have somebody else read
(coverage), then they may read and if they like
call you back.
. Offers - The agent may then ask
for an offer to do
part, if you can, make an offer. If not -
improvise, but don't lie.
. Dead in the water - you could
be if they want escrow
pay or play money and you don't have it.
This is straight business. Agents make money when the actors do. This
is a business transaction, not art. Make the agent (and their
assistants) as comfortable with you and the work as possible. Your
producer has to make you out to be someone the actor should work with
in their career. How do
they do that? I dunno. Make you out to be the creative genius we've all
about? Fun to work with? That's why THEY ARE PRODUCERS AND YOU'RE NOT.
My take is always a good script. "If it's not on the page, it's not on
the stage." Ain't cliché's great? Truth is most actors, most
actors, want to do something that will stretch them and their abilities
- JUST LIKE YOU. Your problem is writing the script they want to do.
Write it. OK, how do you get it past the agent? That's the catch 22 of
the film business. Agents are the bane of the independent film
community, usually for actors that are working a lot they will not
forward a script without money, or play or pay money, or a whole host
of other obstacles intended to dissuade you from 'bothering' their
client. The fact is that their client may love to do your script,
but if he doesn't see it or get a chance to read it, you are dead in
O.K., I got a prestigious production company with over 2 billion in
investment capital that is currently making a film with Jack Nicholson
to write a letter of intent to produce my film contingent,
on the cast for X million. The agents did not know this production
company, they weren't Paramount, or October, so they would not even
forward a script to the client without an escrow account. That means
that they want to see cash they know is there rather than the promise
of a good film. Well, OK, understandable from their point of view
considering how many bad scripts are floating around, but incredibly
lazy of them considering this company was financing films
for Paramount. They only know how to play by their rules, it has
to do with the actor, usually. I know some actors tell their agents
ONLY want big budget films, so it may not be the agent at all.
the agent, now what? Cruise the places that your actor may haunt -
bars, theaters etc.? Possible, but imagine you're an actor who gets
accosted by somebody on the street
with a script in his/her hand? It has to feel like getting stalked, and
that is not conducive to a trusting relationship on the set. PRODUCERS
Get your producer to do it, he/she wants to produce? Produce!
You might want to try getting a known
on board that has cast the actor you
another film (IMDB). Find out who some of the casting directors are in
town, many of them want to produce, see if you can get them to read
your script and if they like
it, offer them a producer credit. If your script comes from a casting
an agent will automatically take a much more serious interest, mainly
he represents a number of actors who may ALL need this casting director
the future. If your casting director is any good, then the script will
read and the agents will treat your project with a lot more regard.
They'll still play the game, but you now have some clout.
Other than that, it's personal relationships, who you know that can
help you. I know, that sounds terrible, but it's the truth, and it
doesn't always help. For instance, one of my actors has a personal
friendship with an actor I had in mind for the lead in my next film,
slept at his apartment in New York while working on his
film. He liked the script,
and would not give it too him. Jealousy? Selfishness? Maybe, probably,
the end result is with one degree of separation, I could not reach the
actor. Blows doesn't it?
You have to try the straight route I've outlined above, it may
be the actor you want is screaming for good work and he may get a
to read it. It may be the agent sends it on and the actor hates it but
tell you. It may be that the agent is playing the hollywood shuffle
your script for reasons of his own. None of that matters, you have
to play the straight route first, and, if none of that works, be
buy a billboard on Sunset Ave. advertising your script, cruise the
something, anything. You may be the reason your actor has a whole new
with his agent.