An Open Letter To The Guy Advertising His Screenplay On The Eagle Rock Car Wash Bulletin Board
I was getting my car washed the other day because it had half of all the bugs between Seattle and Los Angeles on it, and I was walking down that long, dark corridor where you can watch your car going through the machinery. There should be videogames there, but at this car wash, there are none. There is nothing, except this weird little bulletin board where people advertise used washing machines, or sublets, or their real estate practice. (Sometimes the real estate guys get very fancy and put on a tuxedo for the occasion. Quite a nice touch. I mean, come on. My real estate agent is wearing a tux! Of course you're going to sell your house to me. He's wearing a tux!)
And because there was no Tekken 2 machine with half the buttons broken, or one of those bootleg Japanese "HAPPY FUN GAME!!!" machines with some weird hacked Dig Dug rip-off from the '80's involving penguins or bubbles with faces, I scanned the board. And I came across your little card advertising your screenplay.
I mean. I like the color. Fuchsia, right? And that comet sticker you put on there. Really catches the eye and highlights the fact that it is indeed an "Original Story." And I like the fact that you have an agent. That shows me that you're professional and you don't really need me, which, as we all know, is key, because we don't like neediness in Hollywood, right... Barry? (Can I call you Barry? Because, you know, it's written there. In nice block letters. With no last name. Just, you know, Barry.)
But let get serious for a second, Barry. Eagle Rock? I mean, I love my little townlet. It's up and coming yet still diverse, it's a bit removed yet close enough to everything. Great restaurants, a college town, a few hip bars, great pizza, cafes with free WiFi, etc. etc. But, you know, it's still Eagle Rock. It's not like any reputable producers are on their lunch break from their offices on Wilshire and are hopping over to Eagle Rock to get their car washed. And a car wash? I mean. You know. A car wash bulletin board. I mean, I love the entrepreneurial spirit and the thinking outside the box, but a car wash?
I know how hard it is to get past the velvet rope or over the wall or whatever metaphor you'd like to fuck up. God knows I struggled for years to get someone, anyone, to read my shit. I mean, I've worked steadily in this business for over 4 years now and I still have no idea how you do it. But there are smarter ways to get noticed, is my point. Ways that better use your energy and resources (and that preserve your sticker collection) -- craft a great, funny query letter and send it to the young agents at all the reputable agencies, enter screenwriting contests, search Craiglist for screenwriting groups and network from there, make a no budget short and put it on YouTube, start a blog. There are lots of good ideas... and then there's a fuchsia notecard in a dark corridor in the car wash in Eagle Rock.
I've said it before, but this business is all about "evidence." No one will hire you or sign you or even blow you if someone else hasn't hired you or signed your or blown you first. To circumnavigate this fucking monster Catch-22, you must create a body of evidence proving your talent/blowability, which will then hopefully act as a substitute for that first job, blow or otherwise. In less fellatiotic terms, you have to collect a bunch of small external validations of your talent that will look, to the shiny, hungry, myopic eyes of The Business, close enough to internal, Hollywood validation to confuse them.
I got my first agent because she read my blog. But I only really "got" her because I then had scripts to send her which were professional and, well, good. And I also had positive reviews of plays I'd had produced. And I'd done well in screenplay competitions. I had a tape of a short I'd written and produced. And then when we met, I displayed to her an understanding of the business, because I had done my research. I couldn't afford to buy Variety, so I went to 7-11 every day after my temp job and stood there and read it cover to cover. And once I got her, I continued to amass evidence with and without her help. And I continued to write like a fiend. And from there I got my manager. And then moved to a different agency. And so on and so on.
I know, Barry, that it seems impossible when you come to this town and know no one and nothing. And so you throw darts blindly in all directions. I guess my point is that it is possible, with a lot of hard work, to get to the point that you're at least facing the dartboard.
Wishing you the best,
ps: But come on, just between me and you. You don't really have an agent. Because if you do: fire her.