I am going to be a writer/director. I have done neither professionally before, but I have previsualized the movie with my script. My question is what’s the next step? Can I just call the studio for a appointment to show them the pre-viz, or do I buy the Hollywood Creative Directory of Agents and Producers and send it to each one of them and maybe they will be impressed enough to show it around to get a deal?

–Geoff B
Nova Scotia, Canada

For readers who are unfamiliar with the term, a pre-visualization consists of artwork — often animated — which demonstrates the look and style of a film before it’s shot. It’s a technique often used for movies that involve elaborate set pieces (such as battle scenes) to help all the departments plan and budget for the work ahead. For instance, when prepping for CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE, the helicopter stunt at the opening was extensively animated before a frame of film was shot. That way, the director could focus on getting exactly the pieces he needed, replacing the roughly-animated polygonal figures with real angels.

But that’s an expensive Hollywood movie. Why would Geoff want or need pre-visualization?

Well, if he’s trying to do a movie that has a very different visual style, it might help. For instance, the upcoming SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW has an incredibly stylized, retro-futuristic look, achieved by computer animation and actors shot against green screen. The only way the director could convince a studio (in this case, Paramount) to gamble on the project was to shoot an extensive pre-visualization that explained his vision.

If Geoff’s movie is a simple romantic comedy, or a cop drama, then pre-visualization isn’t necessary, and probably won’t help him get a deal. But if his movie is more unusual or elaborate, it just might.

Since it sounds like Geoff is starting out from scratch, without any contacts, his “shotgun” approach of going through the Hollywood Creative Directory might make sense. Whatever he sends out — a videotape, storyboards, artwork — should be absolutely professional, concise, and well-edited. I wouldn’t send out the script until people respond.