Category Archives: Young Writers

How to pitch Screenplays, Screenwriting Ideas and Ad Agency Pals

So you have a great idea. You have an in at, say, Disney, and all you have to do is pitch it and you’re golden. Actually, they don’t want your idea and won’t even open it. They’ve all been sued by writers. It’s made them more paranoid than Jack in ‘The Shining.’

A couple of first hand accounts. Before I got my current agent, OK, alleged agent as who is really ever sure of this ‘relationship’–I sent out queries. Queries. It’s an outdated word, and the same’s true of the concept. I was amazed to get back Registered letters costing several dollars in registered letter fees telling me in a form letter that CAA, ICM, William Morris and others did not open unsolicited letters.

It blew me away that they would send me a letter saying they had not opened my letter. And pay triple the postage to do it.

Another personal note, this time from inside the just as paranoid and crazy world of ad agencies. As the Creative Director on accounts like Coca-Cola, Disney and Nintendo, people would often send in ideas. Sometimes they’d be scrawled on napkins. Others were typed on typewriters with ribbons. Most of them never even made it to my mail slot. But once in a while something would cross my desk that was opened by mistake. The one I remember most was basically a raunchy joke for an apparel company that would have lost the account, gotten us sued and probably blacklisted from any women’s products accounts ever.

So when a friend of mine approached me about submitting some ideas…
Here’s the email I sent back:
“Hey, glad you’re getting some good dinners. If your contact wants an estimate on a job, or a credentials review, that’d be the right place to start. Companies have policies where they never accept ideas unless there is a formal process. This often includes an approved brief with a budget, if they have an actual assignment. If they don’t but are just fishing, it usually begins with a looser but still approved vendor kind of thing. I’d wait until he has something like that to offer rather than just pitch ideas. Another thought would be to reach out to the agency he is working with. They might be open to hearing some ideas and it benefits them to be proactive.”

In other words, who knows how or why. No one wants to let you in. Period. My only real advice is to make it great.