Assuming you have an agent, manager, lawyer and all the other must haves to sell a spec, do you think it’s wise for your reps to take the material wide (20-30 producers) or for them to slip it to individual producers three or four at a time in order to sell the piece?
— Alexander NYC, NY
There’s no right answer. It depends on the script and the market, and even then you’ll get conflicting answers.
By targeting a few select producers, you hopefully put the script in the hands of the people who are most likely to (a) love it and (b) get it set up at a given studio. For a script that deals with challenging subject material, or which lacks obvious commercial appeal, this might be a smart move.
For instance, say you’ve written a sophisticated romantic comedy with leads in their 60’s, maybe a blue-collar version of Something’s Gotta Give. It might be smart to look at what producers (such as Scott Rudin), directors (such as James L. Brooks) or hyphenates (such as Clint Eastwood) would be natural fits for it. Target them first, so that they can take it to the studio with themselves attached.
On the other hand, if a script is just flat-out commercial, you can sometimes sell it for a lot of money by going to all (or most) of the studios at once. That was the case with The Island, a thriller that’s now in production.
The downside of going wide is that if your script doesn’t receive a great reception, it’s over pretty quickly. You don’t have a chance to change strategy mid-way through, such as targeting a specific director or piece of talent.
My best advice is to trust your instincts, but listen to your representatives.