Submitting A Screenplay To Agents and Studios by Kathie Fong Yoneda
Film Courage: Going back to the question ‘How Does the Film and Television Industry Work?’ Let’s suppose someone has a reputable agent. This writer has checked them out and they know that they’re in good standing, there’s no grievances or complaints. And then they’ve had this agent submit on behalf of them to a studio, what’s the process like? What should they expect? What’s the timeframe? What if the work is optioned? What happens?
Kathie Fong Yoneda: That’s a lot of questions at one time. Certainly it does take time, there are more than a 1,000 pieces of material submitted every month to the studios. Maybe slightly less to larger production companies, but that is a lot of material. Somebody has got to read it. It’s got to go up a chain of command so it does take a little while. I would say reasonable time, they usually get things done, read it and will be able to tell you in 4 to 6 weeks roughly. That’s what it used to be when I was working at the studios. It could be slightly longer now, although a lot of times, now everything is on computer so you can just read it at your leisure. You don’t have to wait for things to be mailed and that kind of stuff.
“Because they want to know (if they like your writing) what else do you have? What genre is it? Is this a writer that we want to get a jump on their other material? They are always thinking ahead because they don’t want to just put all their eggs in one basket. They want to know that there is somebody that’s got free-flowing talent where they can continue to build a relationship.”
But I do think that a lot of times it also depends on who else is submitting material. There may be a more important agent or there may be an agent that has a script that has some famous actor or director attached to it. They are going to get preference. So sometimes scripts get pushed down a little lower, a little lower, a little lower so you do have to watch out for that. I do think it’s important that people understand that for first-timers, you’re going to be there up toward the bottom. So it probably would be longer, four to six weeks.
And if you don’t hear anything, what you do is you just email or call your agent and just ask them about it. Also find out from them if they’ve heard anything because usually they don’t just submit it to one place. They usually try to submit it to a few places because they want to get a consensus of what (in general) the producers and the studio people are looking for.
Film Courage: Well let’s suppose somebody says “We like it. It’s a go!” What happens? What are some of the possibilities?
Kathie Fong Yoneda: Well first of all, I don’t think they are going to say it right away! [Laughs] But they will probably say “We are interested in this, can you tell us more?” And one of the other questions they are going to ask… “What else do you have?” Because they want to know (if they like your writing) what else do you have? What genre is it? Is this somebody that…a writer that we want to get a jump on their other material? They are always thinking ahead because they don’t want to just put all their eggs in one basket. They want to know that there is somebody that’s got free-flowing talent that’s going to continue to build a relationship on. And that’s why agents are always going to ask that of you before they take you on as a client.
Film Courage: “What else do you have?”
Kathie Fong Yoneda: “What else to you have?” that…and because the studio and the producers always ask “What else does this guy have?” they want to know does this writer have more material because they would like to look at more material.
Question for the Viewers: Do you have six screenplays ready to submit to your agent and the studios?
CONNECT WITH KATHIE FONG YONEDA
With over 25 years of industry experience, Kathie Fong Yoneda has worked for such prestigious studios as Paramount, Columbia, MGM, Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Disney, specializing in story analysis and development of live action and animated projects. Her career includes executive positions with Walt Disney, Touchstone, Island Pictures and Walt Disney TV Animation where she has evaluated more than 18,000 submissions (Read more here).
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