The secret to finding someone to “read” your script…

and actually take action on your script is to find somebody who can “use” your script

“Von Trapp Children Don’t Play, They March”

Finding someone to “read” your screenplay…
finding someone to “read” your screenplay

The secret to finding someone to “read” and actually take action on your script is to find somebody who can “use” your script to propel his/her own career to the next level.

And the people who are most desperate for an occupational turbo-boost are ascending talent, not established players in the biz.

Derek Cianfrance may have read your erotic thriller script before he helmed “Blue Valentine,” but not after.

Emma Stone might have looked at your romantic comedy before “Easy A,” but not now.

Jennifer Lawrence might have possibly taken a look at your action spec before “The Hunger Games,” but you sure as shit can’t get her on the phone now.

And how do you find those eager, hungry talents?

The formula is simple:

Watch as many movies as you can within your genre that were made in the last two years. (The more independent, the better. Netflix is great for this.)

Write down the key players for each movie (producers, directors, actors, etc.)

Find their contact info, or their rep’s contact info, in IMDb Pro and add them to your spreadsheet of choice.

Contact them.

But to do this you’ve gotta get off your ass and go see some movies in your genre, before they play them on TBS on a Saturday afternoon in between showings of “Beastmaster.”

You’ve gotta scroll through your Netflix queue and find all the obscure, indie films in your genre before Robert Osborne presents them on Turner Classic Movies.

You’ve gotta know which studios and production companies produce which kinds of films. (New Line loves horror and Tyler Perry films. Disney, well…doesn’t even make movies anymore.)

It’s all fine and good to watch “The Shawshank Redemption” for the fifteenth time when you’ve sold your script.

But when you’re in sell mode, you’ve gotta stay focused. You’ve gotta watch new(ish) films made by people looking for a better office on the Paramount lot.

You’ve gotta find folks as ambitious and hungry as yourself.


I know you’re busy. I know you have no time.

I know you’ve (probably) got a soul-draining job that eats all your free time.

But I’d like you to try to see at least three new (ish) movies in your genre per week, one in the theatre and two on Netflix or HBO or whatever.

If there are no movies in your genre available at your local Cineplex, feel free to see something else. (Horror/suspense and low-budget rom-coms are always good breeding grounds for new talent. Action movies, not so much.)

For each film, I’d like you to add the following peeps to your database:

  • Producer
  • Co-Producer
  • Interesting Actors That Don’t Suck and are Relatively Unknown
  • Newbie(ish) Directors
  • The D.P. or Director of Photography
  • The Studio
  • The Production Company

A few thoughts on these:


Of the above people to contact, my absolute favorites are producers. These are the people who spend years (sometimes decades) finding material and birthing it from development to DVD sales. They are also some of the craziest, most awesome (and awful) people on the planet.

Don’t worry so much about executive producers. These are usually money people. And forget line producers, who are not generally involved in the creative side.

Co-producers, however, usually bring in the name actors. These are good people to know. Which can make them a valuable addition to your database.


Actors are the FASTEST way into this biz. (Or more accurately, through their agent or manager.) But you’ve gotta get them early. Putting Channing Tatum or Jennifer Lawrence on your list NOW is a waste of time.

And you’ve gotta make sure your material is a fit. (Think where they want to be, not where they are right now.)

Or better yet, think of where they USED to be. There’s no one quite as motivated as a washed-up thespian in need of a career resurrection. (Read: John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction.”)

My favorite genre for this is Slasher films. (Especially actresses.)

There are always one or two talented women in a horror movie who you can tell are better than the material, and are just hoping for that breakout script to get them out of Gore-ville. (Maybe your breakout script?)


Directors can be the most difficult to reach. But they are also the quickest way to get a project green-lit.

Studios feel way more comfortable knowing a good director is on board, than a comparably good actor. (Oh, how things have changed.)

But, as with actors, you have to reach ’em on the way up. (I love finding semi-obscure directors on Netflix. There are TONS of them on there.)

And don’t forget the D.P. or Director of Photography. Aside from a few F-Stop junkies who don’t want to do anything but cinematography, most D.P.s would love a shot at helming a feature of their own.

Studios and Production Companies

You won’t be contacting studios directly. But keeping track of which studio produced or distributed a film is a good way to learn who makes what in this town.

Production companies, on the other hand, are a veritable goldmine for a screenwriter.

Yes, they are often affiliated with the producer, or assistant producer on a project, but “prod-cos” also have in-house story editors and development executives who you can add to your list and contact later.