Your talent as a writer can only advance your career when it’s noticed. That’s the trick.
No one wants to read a writer just because they’re trying to break in. In fact, the way it looks most of the time is that people just want you to go away. Be ok with that.
Beyond sending query emails, having friends make referrals to agents and managers, cold calling or taking out a “brilliant” ad (not recommended), what can be done to get you noticed by influencers in town?
Enter writing contests and labs.
There are many. Here’s the ones I pay attention to:
Sundance Screenwriters Lab
Film Independent Screenwriting Lab
Bluecat Screenplay Competition
HBO Writing Fellowship
Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Tracking Board Launchpad Competition
Page International Screenwriting Awards
In addition to contests and labs, write plays and find a way to get them produced. Doesn’t matter how small or unknown your theater may be, having your work produced in any form is a meaningful and validating experience. Even if it doesn’t land you a series or film deal or lead you to broadway, it will give you valuable insight into what your work is capable of.
Finally, a useful practice, before all the contests, labs and play production endeavors, don’t forget to workshop your work. Have your material read by as many smart readers as possible. Have a table read to hear what your work sounds like. Join a writer group. Make sure the group produces work regularly to be read and noted by everyone in the group.
Maybe that 1st time someone offers to introduce you to someone (with credibility) in Hollywood it’ll all click. Don’t count on it. You’ve gotta build up momentum. Stay focused. It’s always easier to notice someone who is focused and has a body of work in a particular genre. Build up a base of people who’ve read you and will actually take the extra time to introduce you to someone useful. Use them selectively.
Make a target list of producers. People who make the kinds of entertainment you write. Find out what writers they’ve worked with before and then find out who represents those writers. Not just the agencies, find the individual agents and managers. It’s a bit easier to start with managers – as they’ll often be building your representation team. See if you can find a pattern. Often each writer will have a team of reps. Look for the younger managers (or agents) who are representing clients that have recently optioned, sold or gotten projects made. Find a way to connect the dots and build a web of knowledge around these deals and deal makers. All the information is available in some capacity via IMDBpro and Deadline (or Hollywood Reporter or Variety).
If you keep at it and have talent, eventually your efforts will yield attention, and hopefully interest.