SELLING A SCRIPT TO NETFLIX
Smart T.V, Netflix, Screenwriters, Literary Endeavors
by Pamela Ryan-Hick
I watched the 2020 Emmy’s and wondered what all the hype about Schitt’s Creek was. Since they were winning in many categories, I had no choice but to tune in, and soon became addicted to the show. I sat, bingeing into late hours of the night, watching episode after episode, six years of productionin a two day period.
Like every screenwriter, we don’t just watch shows and movies, we study them to great depth. We study the actors, the dialogue, the make-up, set decorations, as well as costumes. Sometimes we rewind a funny scene to understand the technique used, to replicate later as our own adaptation.
I was sad watching the last episode of the Emmy award winning show, but very happy to see that the actor who plays David wrote a documentary (a sort of behind the scenes preview, of what took place the last six years, of filming the show). He showed how the writers work together. As a group, they sit down at a large table on a daily basis, to bring the story to life. I recommend watching this documentary after watching Schitt’s Creek to the end, as this show had a long run on Netflix, and the creator just decided one day, to end it at the six year mark, even though it was such a popular show. Soon I started asking myself, “What does it take for a writer to sell their script to Netflix?” I’m sure that question has popped into many a screenwriter’s mind ~especially since selling a script to a large studio may, at this year of the “Great Pandemic” may be impossible. My husband works for a major studio and can’t even get on the lot without much uproar and planning. It’s also been known, that studios are trying to just stay afloat in a creative joint effort, whereas during the pandemic, Netflix has thrived.
Who wouldn’t want to sell a script to Netflix? I did a Google search and came up with the following information:
The website will let you know that Netflix doesn’t take unsolicited scripts. The screenwriter will need a licensed literary agent, producer, attorney, manager or any manager entertainment executive. A Google search listing the top agents in Hollywood is something you could do for yourself. Here is an example of three:
1.) Gersh ~ 9465 Wilshire Blvd. 6th Floor. Beverly Hills, California 90212. (310) 274-6611 ~ I called and got a person and not recording, but in order to get past her, I needed a name of an agent. Rule number one ~ make friends with the receptionist, unlike us, they are already in the door.
2.) Paradigm ~ 8942 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, California 90211. (310) 288-8000~I got the answering machine which prompted me to type in a name of the agent I wanted to talk to. I typed in the last name of Smith and got five literary agent’s names, one of which is Carolyn Smith ext 2384. It was fun but, I most likely won’t do anything with the information. Still, I got a kick out of my fearlessness, and NEED to sell a script to Netflix!
3.) Blake Friedmann ~ http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/contact ~ This literary agency is located in the UK ~ I was impressed by their website. This was the only literary agency that had a list of agent’s email, and descriptions of the writer’s they represent. This agency represents more novel writers than screenwriters but we can possibly turn our scripts into novels just to get them sold. I wrote a query letter and sent a writing sample to email@example.com. but find the agent that fits your writing style.
In closing, I had fun this afternoon of inquiry and networking, introducing myself to these literary agents. Even if they are around the world, they may know someone in Hollywood who works for Netflix, right? Who knows what doors it will open?
Please share your journey about finding a literary agent, producer, manager or lawyer. Many of these literary agencies want a 500-word synopsis, two chapter writing sample, contact information and cover letter so it doesn’t hurt to get all of that ready ahead of time, until the studios reopen to full capacity.
About Pamela Ryan-Hick:
Pamela Ryan-Hick has been a member of Phoenix Screenwriter’s Association for over five years! She started writing while living in Washington State in 2005. She wrote “The Promise Ring” that year and went on to write screenplays because she enjoys the three-act structure. Her first screenplay, “Lost Earring on the Coit” placed finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Festival, a favorite festival of hers because she gets to visit home as she was born and raised in Ventura, California. Pamela works as a Professional Counselor, has three children and her attorney husband works for Sony Pictures, making his way to the Entertainment Law division of the company. Pamela enjoys listening to her husband’s “at home” conference calls as she gets inside information on where the company is headed, which happens to be family entertainment as they are going to purchase an animation film studio in the near future. When Pamela isn’t writing, she reads and watches movies on Netflix, her favorite being The Crowne, a Sony Pictures series. Pamela also likes to hike with her three Australian Shepherds, one of them giving her the inspiration to write a children’s book titled, “Love Dogs, Ollie’s Travels to Flagstaff.” Pamela enjoys attending PSA events, especially the classes where she can learn the tips of the trade!