You have the next big feature film, or the next Emmy-winning comedy and all you need to do is get a meeting with the right executive. Or let’s say you’re an aspiring screenwriter and all you need is for an agent or a manager to read your script. There’s only one problem – you don’t know any of these execs, managers or agents and none of them will return your call. What should you do?
There is a group of people in the entertainment industry that often gets overlooked – the assistants. “But wait,” you say, “they’re just assistants. They answer phones and get coffee. What are they going to do for me? I spoke to them on the phone and they were not helpful.” This is a valid point. Most assistants won’t help you especially if they know their boss is ignoring you. But there are a select few who are desperately on the lookout for new material and impress their bosses with them in order to further their career. These are the people you need to find!
WHICH ASSISTANTS WILL HELP ME?
Every assistant in Hollywood wants to “get off the desk” and NOT be an assistant. Aside from just quitting, there are two ways this can happen for them – get a new job elsewhere, or get promoted. You need to find the assistants that are trying to achieve the latter. These assistants have arrangement with their bosses that if they prove themselves worthy they will get promoted… and most importantly, they WANT to get promoted at that specific company. The only way they are going to be promoted is by proving their value and the best way to do this is by bringing material to their superiors. Same goes for agencies or management companies. If you’re looking for representation, you need to find an assistant that actually wants to become a rep (most agent assistants just put in their year and move on to another company). The only way they’ll get off the desk is by building a roster, so they’re always looking for new writers.
HOW DO I FIND THESE ASSISTANTS?
There isn’t a clear and easy way to connect with assistants, but whatever you do, don’t cold call saying you have a pitch or a script. Assistants hate these calls and will more than likely turn you away. You need to find ways to network with them outside of work. Some effective ways include film festivals, conferences, pitchfests and seminars. You can even find out through Facebook groups and Meetup groups where specific networking events are happening.
ONCE I MEET THEM, WHEN DO I START PITCHING MY IDEAS?
Don’t be in a rush to pitch your ideas at an assistant once you first meet them. You’ll come across as desperate. Again, you need to find out whether or not the person is the “hungry assistant looking to get a promotion.” Your goal is to engage him/her on a professional and personal level, find out what their objectives are and let them know that you are a writer (or a producer). Present yourself in a manner in which you have finished scripts (or secured rights to a particular project) and if they’re interested in taking a look at anything, you’d be more than happy to discuss. If they’re that hungry assistant you’re looking for, they will ASK you for your ideas. And even when this happens, just give them the short one-lined pitch and tell them that you will send them more details (script, treatment, pitch doc etc) over email.