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07/29/2005 - Niche Markets
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Given the enormously competitive market for spec screenplays-it's vital to make the most of your efforts to get a script read, even at the lowest rung of the food chain.

Using a completely blanket approach is unlikely to prove the most productive. Sending query letters to high profile production companies who require agent submissions will only result in form letter returns, if not a "return to sender" stamp on your unopened letter. Likewise, well-established agents handling "A-list" writers are too busy promoting their proven stable of active writers to consider work of unknowns.

So where does this leave you?

Try vying for the attention of those companies and agents willing to accept unsolicited queries or scripts. Trade magazines often list such production companies or agents.

But when a production company says they're looking for "edgy", dark thrillers-forget sending a query for your historical drama about the first female blimp pilot. Respect their wishes. Being bombarded with concepts that are clearly inappropriate only makes such companies doubt the wisdom of opening the door to spec scriptwriters in the future.

What about contests? Here, too, choose wisely. Your doomsday drama that relies heavily on special effects over strong characters in compelling situations is not a good choice for the Nicholl competition. Carefully read criteria judges will use in selecting scripts for consideration as a finalist. Most contests involve an entry fee. Don't waste time, money and postage on what's clearly a long shot.

Of course, you know sitting back and waiting for Hollywood to come knocking on your door is never going to happen. You must market your work. You must be your own best advocate.

But-do your homework. Find the niche markets that offer the best opportunity for recognition and exposure. In the long run, such due diligence increases your odds. You may not even make a sale on this script-but you could uncover a contact willing to look at future work. And that's how careers are built-one brick at a time.

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