Breaking Into Hollywood (from the UK)

Lots of UK writers have been asking me recently about breaking into Hollywood so here’s my advice.

Pretty much the same advice applies whether you’re breaking into your home market or a foreign market and my top tip for both is DO YOUR HOMEWORK!   Just as I’d expect a writer applying to write on ‘Holby City’ or ‘Coronation Street’ to watch the show and know it well, so you have to know the market you’re trying to crack, whatever and wherever it is.

If you’re a UK writer wanting to write UK films you’d be researching UK film production companies, right? So, do the same thing for Los Angeles. Learn which production companies and studios make what films. If you’re into the UK market you’d get Broadcast and Moviescope.  For the US market there are loads of great magazines and websites to help you keep track of who’s making what – try Deadline Hollywood, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.   There are also subscription sites like TrackingBTracking Board, DoneDealPro, ItsOnTheGrid and Screen International.

If you want L.A representation, find out who represents the Hollywood writers whose films you love. The websites that track film script sales always mention who represents the writer so you can build up a picture of the L.A literary agent scene pretty quickly.

Although you can certainly make approaches to Hollywood from the UK, in her ScriptChat Q&A, Los Angeles literary manager Jenny Frankfurt also recommends getting out to L.A and networking in person.  One great way to do this is through the Hollywood Field Trip.  It’s a bit pricey but the feedback from those writers that have been is that it was money incredibly well invested in their careers. Right now the guys have got 2 spots remaining on their October trip and are offering £200 off the price. Do get in touch with them if you’re interested.

If Hollywood is the market you want to write for then you should GO FOR IT – good luck and I’ll see you there!


2 responses to “Breaking Into Hollywood (from the UK)

  1. Hi Hayley.

    Just to expand on your exemplary “do your homework” maxim. The US film market tends to lean more towards ‘same but different’ as a guide to being interested in investing in film. Originality is highly overrated.

    My advice for folk looking to get a toe in the Hollywood door: know your genre inside out and study the current vogue of your chosen genre to find out what’s putting bums on seats, not just in the US but around the world.

    The contemporary feel and style of your chosen genre is crucial to appealing to its established audience – genre quite literally ‘banks’ on a historical audience relating to, and buying into, recent established and successful films in that same genre. That’s what the Hollywood filmmakers are looking for. That’s the kind of ambition that will get their juices flowing.

    Know what you want to write. Do your homework. Then write something similar but different. And a lot better.

    Jared x

    • Brilliant advice Jared! I agree wholeheartedly that Hollywood wants ‘the same, but different’, so knowing what’s already out there and doing well is half the battle. I’m not suggesting you write what you think they’re looking for, we all want originality and to be surprised, but having knowledge of the industry is really important to understand how and why execs respond as they do to your work.

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