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A one-page query letter sums up your project and asks (queries) the recipient, usually an agent or producer, if he'd like to see the script. Some writers believe query letters are too hit-and-miss and usually thrown away unread, and therefore a waste of time. They prefer to concentrate on getting referrals and making connections. There's a great deal of validity to this point of view. Other writers, however, have had success with queries. It's still good to know how to write one for when you do eventually make a contact.
The tips below come from screenwriter Andrew Bennett, who credits the writer Paul Lawrence with them. They can be used for e-mail, fax, and snail mail queries. They showcase your professionalism and increase the likelihood of a positive response.
• Start with a quote about yourself from someone who matters—contest judge, producer, working writer, director.
• Always find the exact name, spelled correctly, of the person you're contacting.
• Open with a brief introduction.
• Follow with your highest element of credibility. This could be a contest win, good coverage, a script of yours that was optioned or is in production, or even any special expertise that you may have. If your script is about the first brain transplant and you're a brain surgeon, you'll come across as credible.
• Deliver the logline for your script. If it's a great high concept, all the better.
• Follow it with a very brief synopsis containing the bare-bones elements of your story: two or three short paragraphs delivering the essentials about your protagonist, his conflict, and each of the major plot points (Act I and II breaks).
• Tell or at least imply the ending in a way that is compelling and inspires a producer to want to read the script.
• Be clear about what you want. I simply ask "May I send you the script?"
• Include contact info.
• Paste a resume at the end.
• For e-mails, use the subject line: From the Office of (Your Name).
"Wow! You're either brilliant or totally insane. Or both!" (Matt Calcara of the 20/20 Screenwriting Contest)
Attention Johnny Producer:
My name is Andrew Bennett and I'm an up-and-coming screenwriter in the Hollywood area. I'm currently in rewrites on my script The Grandmother, optioned by Scott Schneid with Lorne Cameron attached to produce. I'm looking for opportunities for several of my spec scripts.
My latest script is entitled Unscripting the Apocalypse. It's a comedy in which God hires an alcoholic writer to script the end of the world.
May I send you the script?
Thanks for your time,
Resume (pasted in e-mail or attached as separate sheet to fax or letter)