Writing the Kick-ass Query
Here’s an example of a query letter that got an immediate response. And I mean IMMEDIATE. Within minutes, they emailed me back asking for the script. A few details have been changed. I’ll comment on each section in orange.
Dear Emily, (Address it directly to someone. I typically choose someone who is either newest to the company or in the most junior position. If you can’t find a name, then just say “hello”)
RE: literary representation. (Put this in the subject bar of your e-mail to avoid it being trashed. Other Suggestions: “Query” and the title of your project; if you met them somewhere, put where you met; also, if you have a generic e-mail address, address it to someone specific “ATTN: Emily”)
I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet at the pitchfest. I hope you found it beneficial. As a result of the pitchfest, my feature script, Block Rockin’ Beats, is currently with both Banging Pictures and Fancy Pants Management, who also requested the pilot script for my one-hour drama series, Up The Creek. Up The Creek and my suspense drama No Paddle were both nearly optioned by Another Production Company and helped secure representation with My Big Fat Literary Agency. I would love to send you a writing sample such as Block Rockin’ Beats. (I mentioned where I got her contact info and that two other places requested my scripts as well as prior success with production companies and agencies so they can see other people in the industry like my work. I didn’t go into training or anything else as industry approval is more legitimate.)
Logline: A D.J. gets busted for playing Rockin’ Beats in a town where only Christian music is allowed. (I isolated the logline so they know where to find it easily)
(Here I wrote 2 more sentences about the script. I suggest keeping it to no more than a short paragraph. Tell them only what they need to know to want to read your script.)
As a writer of high-concept romantic comedies and cable television dramedies, my style tends to be mainly character-driven, sophisticated verbal comedy, which is better-suited to the US market. I’m looking for a manager with the ability to introduce me to the Los Angeles market and with whom I can continue to grow as an artist. (I clearly identified my niche so they know how to market me and whether or not I’m suited to their roster. I also outlined specific goals I’d like to achieve with them. Avoid listing more than two, if they want to meet with you, you can get into greater detail then.)
Thank you for taking the time to review my material. I can be reached any time at 555-1546. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
(put your name and contact info here. If you have any relevant credits on IMDB or a website, put your links here.)
I have to mention too that I sent a similar letter to a few others and received no response, so it’s not a guarantee. Obviously, what I’m pitching to them has to be of interest to them.
As a fledgling writer, I got terrible advice and wrote dreadful query letters. I got no responses, which was probably for the best, as looking back, I wasn’t ready to be pitching anyway.
Things NOT to put in query letters:
- Casual chit-chat like “hey, how’s it going?”
- LMAO or IMHO
- This is my first ever script so it’s a bit rough around the edges, but you can fix that right?
- My movie is about forestry and I have no experience in that but you can fix that right?
- My movie is about mining. I’m a miner. It’s gonna rock!
- This is the best script you’re going to read guaranteed!
- I’m a huge fan of Hilary Duff and I wrote this movie for her
- Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side! Ha ha, see, I’m funny.
- Ever wonder what life would be like if no one could talk? No? Well, I did and I wrote a script about it.
- I’m dying of some rare virus and I wrote this script about my journey battling the disease. I’d like to see it made before I die.
- My script is about incest and I know about incest because I was in an incestuous relationship.
- I LOVE SCREENWRITING, I’M GONNA BE FAMOUS AND RICH SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET ON BAORD! dON’T mISS THE BOAT, M*($@R F$@%#R!
I think you get the idea. People in Hollywood talk and they share their horror stories. You really don’t want to be among them. Keep it brief, keep it professional.