Recommendation: Query Better with Virtual Pitchfest

vpf_flash003by Angela Bourassa

Virtual Pitch Fest is one of our sponsors for the LA Screenwriter Logline Competition. I’ve heard a lot about there services and respected their business practices (such generous tweeters!) for a long time, which is why I decided to bring them on as a sponsor. But I hadn’t actually tried their pitch service myself, so last week the good people at VPF hooked me up with a standard package of five pitches, and I gave it a shot.

When you start exploring the VPF website, the first thing you realize is just how many agents, managers, and especially producers they have in their system. Unlike query blast services that blanket the entire industry — reputable and otherwise — with depersonalized query letters, Virtual Pitch Fest maintains a database of professionals who have agreed to be part of their service. These are people who are actively looking for new clients or projects to produce, and they are guaranteed to respond to your query in five business days or less. (Four out of the five people that I queried got back to me in under a day.)

I started by searching the database for agents and managers who are looking for broad comedies. I threw in a few producers for good measure, and ended up with a list of about ten people that I thought would be an excellent fit for my project based on what I learned about them through VPF and through additional research on IMDBpro (it’s always good to be thorough).

I started off slowly, sending just one query letter. I was pitching a script I wrote called Do Over. The logline is:

In a world where every person has the chance to re-do one day of their life, a do over consultant must use the power to stop his ex-wife from getting remarried.

This script has won one contest so far, and it was well reviewed on Scriptshadow. I was able to boast these accolades in my query letter, which you can read here. Contest wins, previous options, and other relevant accomplishments go a long way to strengthen a query letter — if you don’t have anything like this under your belt, it may be too soon to start looking for representation.

I felt pretty good about my query letter, but you never know how you’re going to be received, so I decided to send just one at first in case I had missed a glaring typo or set the wrong tone.

Within a few hours I got the response — the manager I’d queried declined. He said it wasn’t anything personal, he just wasn’t interested in the subject matter at the time.

Ok, cool. It could be that he was just being polite and hated the idea, but at least I knew that there weren’t any major problems with my query letter. So I sent out two more, one to another manager, one to a producer.

The producer told me the script wasn’t what they were looking for at the moment. This made me realize that querying producers didn’t make the most sense for me, particularly given the fact that I only had five pitches at my disposal. Producers are looking for very specific projects — projects that match their budget or locations they have access to or which they can cast their favorite actress in. They’re bound to be more picky than managers and agents in that respect, so I decided to steer away from producers for my next two pitches.

My third pitch was a success! The manager got back to me quickly that she was excited about the idea and wanted to read the script.

What really sold me on Virtual Pitch Fest was the fact that this manager was someone who I had sent a query letter to a few months before — the exact same query letter, in fact. I had emailed her directly, and she had never gotten back to me. But now with VPF, I had found a way to get on her radar, and she had responded. This particular manager had a writer on the Black List last year, and I think she’s an excellent fit with my writing style, so I’m incredibly excited that my pitch through VPF caught her attention.

My other two queries were turned down for, again, not being what those people were currently looking for, but I’m not deterred. I think VPF has an incredibly valuable service here, and I fully intend to use it again. The fact that I got to target people who I wanted to show my script to, people who I knew to be reputable, and get guaranteed responses was incredibly helpful. Plus, through VPF I was able to query companies that don’t usually accept unsolicited queries, companies such as APA and Paradigm.

VPF has packages starting at 5 pitches for $50, and the cost goes down the more pitches you buy. Plus, after you buy your first package, you can start buying 2 pitches for $20. Even better: VPF regularly has weekend and holiday sales where you can get seven pitches for $50, so be sure to sign up or follow VPF on Twitter for the latest updates.

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Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

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