By now someone has probably told you, "You gotta know someone to have a career in Hollywood." And that is actually true. Getting Hollywood contacts on your Rolodex is critical to any and every career in Hollywood.
The thing they probably didn't tell you, though, is that you don't have to have the contacts when you start out. So, the real question is, "How do you make contacts and nurture them over the course of time?" This article contains 5 steps for screenwriters to make Hollywood contacts from an empty Rolodex and keep them once you get them.
1. Go to pitch-fests and film festivals.
One of the quickest ways to gather several contacts at once is to go where a lot of them are. There are many, many film festivals of all different sizes all over the U.S. as well as all over the world. You can go to one that is convenient for you and make it a point to meet people whom you could establish a long-term professional relationship with.
Create a goal of meeting at least 1 or 2 people a day that you will keep in touch with after the festivals. Afterward, put a good follow-up system in place and let them know when you have a new script or that you got a new agent or that you have a new pitch you want to offer them.
2. Do research and create a targeted list of contacts for your script. Then work that list by sending them a query letter. Then call them and begin developing a relationship.
The Hollywood Creative Directory is one of the best resources to find your list of targeted producers. It lists almost all the major companies, individuals, addresses, contacts, and projects in Hollywood. You can go through this book and pick out that ones that sound like good matches. Then you get on the phone and start calling.
You can also cross-reference your list with something like IMDB.com or IMDBpro to further narrow down who is most suitable for your project.
It takes a great deal of time to do this, but you can do it if you have the time. If you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire a company like Smart Girls Productions to do this selection process for you. Then you can use that list to follow up on.
3. Go through your own Rolodex and think back on everyone you've ever known and see if there is someone you might want to re-connect with. Or maybe someone on that list might be able to connect you to some of their contacts and they could help you.
Whether you are brand new or you've been skipping down the trail in Hollywood for decades, you probably have more connections that you think.
Take the time to brainstorm every single person that you have met personally and think about who they might know that they could hook you up with.
If it is someone you've lost touch with, before you call, you can create a way to connect with them to see what's happening and try to see how they might put you in touch with who they know.
4. Enter screenwriting contests to get feedback and to also get recommended to execs if you win.
Try to find screenwriting contests that have a good reputation and guarantee that they will pass you on to real Hollywood execs if you win.
The execs don't have to be Speilberg and Lucas or Bruckheimer either, as long as they are really working as a producer in Hollywood. Even if they are not big-time yet, if they read your script now and like your work, you'll already have access to them by the time they get "big."
5. Once you make a contact in Hollywood, keep them on your Rolodex, and find reasons to keep in touch with them for as long as you are pursuing a screenwriting career.
The first four steps were on making contacts. This one is on keeping them. One of the best ways to make contacts, as touched on before, is to get to know them before they are big-time.
Even if you meet someone only for 15 or 20 seconds, if you get really good at nurturing a connection, you can use that brief contact as a way to develop it into something much bigger.
Finally, treat everyone with respect in this biz, as long as they do you. Never look down on anyone in their position, as they could end up being the person who opens the door (or closes it) for you at some point in the future.
Melody Jackson, ph.D., is the founder of smart girls productions, a hollywood marketing company supporting actors & screenwriters in moving their careers forward. If you are ready to jump-start your career, increase your confidence, and have more fun pursuing Hollywood success, get "plugged in" at http://www.Querylettermailings.Com also get your free report on "the top 20 literary agents in Hollywood," along with hot tips on marketing yourself to hollywood.
Melody has critiqued thousands of screenplays in depth and was rated a top 5 script consultant in the country by creative screenwriting magazine. Go to http://www.Scriptcritiques.Com for more