TUESDAY'S BIZ TIP:

COLD CALLS


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When I first wrote this tip I had been traveling all over the place teaching classes and doing workshops, and whenever we got to questions and answers the same question always popped up - how can I sell my script? When I mention that I don't have an agent or manager right now - only an attorney to negotiate my contracts - people always ask how I get my scripts to producers in the first place. "The same way you do - query letters and cold calls." "But when I call production companies, I can never get through to anyone." "You mean it just rings and rings?" "No - I can never get past the guy who answers the phone." That's when I point out that the guy who answers the phone is somebody, and I tell this little story...

Years ago when I first came to Hollywood I did some Blockbuster research and found a producer who had made films similar to my latest script - so I decided to cold call the company. I called, and asked for the VP of Development by name... but the guy on the phone wouldn't put me through to him. He was a Temp Receptionist who was trying to be put on full time, so he was being ultra efficient. When he wouldn't put me through to the VP of Development, I decided to pitch *him* my script and ask if *he* would read it. You may think that was pointless - why ask a temp receptionist - some minimum wage guy who probably won't even be there in two weeks - to read my script. Am I just throwing away the $5 copy and $3 postage (this was back when everything was done on paper)? This guy had to be the *least* powerful guy in Hollywood, right? But I pitched him anyway... he was the only guy I could get on the phone. The temp receptionist liked my story, said it *did* seem to be the kind of things the company was making, and agreed to read it.

He read my script and liked it.

Remember - his motivation is to become a full time receptionist for the company so that he'll have a regular pay check. Also remember that a production company might have hundreds of employees when they are actually making a movie, but between films it's just a handful of people in a small office. The receptionist guy is the center of the office - everyone has to get past him. Every phone call goes through him. Every bigwig who comes into the office for a meeting talks to him first. That temp receptionist is the guy who gets bottled water for Tom Cruise when he stops by for a meeting. So that guy who may seem like the least powerful guy in Hollywood is in the center of everything.

My temp receptionist guy took my script to the VP of Development and told him it was really good... and that he could find more really good scripts if they'd make him a full time permanent employee. The VP of Development read my script, liked it, and bought it. That temp receptionist worked his way up to VP of Development... and now is a film producer. Everyone is Hollywood is looking for a way to get ahead. The guy who answers the phone today will eventually be running a studio. So treat even the least powerful people you meet along the way with respect. And you don't have to talk to the VP of Development... the guy who answers the phone works for the company, too... and is probably more motivated than his boss.

Everyone thinks that you need to get your screenplay into the "right hands", but the truth is - if you have a great screenplay you can get it into the "wrong hands" and it will travel around Hollywood until it gets into the right hands. Everyone wants to be the one who disocvers a great screenplay! The old joke is that you can leave a great screenplay on the sidewalk in Hollywood and it will find its way to a studio. Though I don't think that's the best way to sell a screenplay, if you have a great screenplay with an amazing concept at its core, methods like queries and cold calls will open doors for you. The difficult part isn't getting the right person on the phone, it;s writing that great screenplay!

CALLING CARDS

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Here's the problem with cold calling producers: after preparing yourself to pitch, you dial the phone, find out that the VP of Development *does* want to hear your pitch... but she's in a meeting. Can she call you back in about half an hour? "Sure." A half an hour later - no call. So you give up and go back to work on your script. Two hours later, you're in the middle of this great scene where the hero discovers that his best friend works for the bad guys... and the phone rings. It's the VP of Development ready to hear your pitch. Can you even remember what the script you were going to pitch is about? Your brain is in some other story, and by the time you fumble around trying to find your story, you may have lost your audience. When you get that VP of Development on the phone, you don't want to waste their time.

So write your pitch down on an index card (or two) and keep it by the phone. In fact, write down pitches for *all* of your scripts and keep them by the phone. That way if you start pitching your thriller and the VP Devo cuts you off and says they're looking for horror scripts, you'll have the pitch for your horror script right there ready to go. No fumbling around trying to remember the story - you have all of the important stuff written down. If they call at 8am and you were out drinking the night before (not like that has ever happened to me) you can just read it off the card.

I always keep "phone scripts" handy with my bio or any other information I may forget to mention at 8am (like my name). Anything I might need in a phone conversation is spelled out on an index card. I'd rather sound like I was reading stuff off a card than sound incoherent and half asleep. That way I don't forget to explain something or mention an important credit or stall while I'm trying to remember my sidekick's name. Even if I'm wide-awake and energetic, I can concentrate on sounding passionate rather than remembering the details of my story (which are on the cards). With a "phone script" I can put my writing skills to good use and select the best words to describe my story, instead of trying to come up with something off the top of my head.

When you are cold calling you want to use any trick that will give you an edge - from phone scripts to pitching to the guy who answers the phone if he won't put you through to his boss. Ready to start dialing for development deals?

PS: Here we are in 2021, and I'm not sure this is the best method to contact production companies. You are liable to end up on the same list as those annoying robo calls about your car's extended warranty. Queries - by email or phone - are junk mail. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't network at events like Film Festivals and Writers Conferences and Screenings and anyplace else that film people might be. Or that you should only focus in getting your screenplays into the "right hands" when there are so many other hands out there that could pass your screenplay to the right hands.

And the "Calling Cards" with your pitch and all of the information about your screenplays are still a great idea - you never know when someone you met at a Film Festival will call you! Better to be prepared than to stumbe around trying to remember your story! So let's use this as a tip about using the phone when talking to people in the film business, instead of an invitation to become that person trying to sell you an extended warranty on your car.

An expanded version of this tip is included in the BREAKING IN Blue Book.


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STORY IN ACTION SERIES!

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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.

ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER?
AND ARE THEY THE RIGHT SCENES?

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*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!


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MOVIES ARE CHARACTERS!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Kindle!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much more. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

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I WRITE PICTURES!

*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)


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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!

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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.

IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?

Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

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PRO DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

***

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

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WHAT IS A SCENE?

*** SCENE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

***

What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

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SUBPLOTS?

*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)


Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!

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ACT TWO SOLUTIONS!

*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is well over 200 pages!

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All About Endings!

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GRAND FINALES Blue Book!

The Perfect Ending For Your Story!

The First Ten Pages Of Your Screenplay Are Critical,
But What About The Last 10 Pages?

Creating the perfect ending to your story! This 100,000 word book shows you how to end your story with a bang, rather than a whimper. Everything from Resolution Order to Act Three Tools to Happy or Sad Endings? to How The Beginning Of Your Story Has Clues To The Ending (in case you were having trouble figuring out how the story should end) to Falling Action to How To Avoid Bad Endings to Writing The Perfect Twist Ending to Setting Up Sequels & Series to Emotional Resolutions to How To Write Post Credit Sequences to Avoiding Deus Ex Machinas, to 20 Different Types Of Ends (and how to write them) and much more! Everything about endings for your screenplay or novel!

Only: $4.99


NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!


All About LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING!

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LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING! Blue Book!

Distilling Your Screenplay!

Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?

You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!

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READY TO BREAK IN? bluebook

THE BUISINESS SIDE

*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!


Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

$4.99 - and no postage!




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copyright 2021 by William C. Martell


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E BOOKS PAGE

bluebook E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there will soon be novels.
E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES

ONLINE CLASSES
Furious Action Class
MY OTHER SITES

B MOVIE WORLD
Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.

FIRST STRIKE PRODUCTIONS
Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.

NAKED SCREENWRITING CDs

Naked Class The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON CD! The 2001 London Class on 8 CDs! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8CDs, plus a workbook, plus a bonus CD with PDFs.
The 2 Day Class on CD!

BOOKSTORE

Every screenwriting book in the world!
SCREENWRITER'S BOOKSTORE
In Association With Amazon.com
From the latest screenwriting book to guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the Amazon.com discount!

BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS

bluebook FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
Each Blue Book is 48 pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings.
Seventeen Blue Books now available!

THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The Market!

BILL'S CORNER

My nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines, several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
...............................BILL'S CORNER


Available Scripts

CLASSES ON CD

Class CDs CLASSES ON CD! Take a class on CD! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 CDs). Full length classes on CD. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
Take classes on CD!