Oct 31, 2020
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Front Page, Industry News

How Attractive is Your Package? (Part 2)

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

Chris Hastings, whose company specializes in feature packaging (including casting services and script coverage and development), took a moment out of his hectic festival schedule to speak with me. This is a continuation of part 1 available here.

“It’s difficult because you do want to get films made, but my advice to filmmakers is not to sell your soul, because you spend a lot of your life making a film and getting it out there and developing it through all the various phases. So if you compromise at some stage and end up with something that you’re really unhappy with, you’ve just wasted all of that time.”

What are some pointers for packaging scripts?

The first thing that people tend to come to us for is we want such-and-such attached. You know, whether or not its Colin Firth or Brad Pitt – for some reason it always tends to be the person who’s just won an Oscar or has just been in the most successful film - and they always come to us saying “I’ve got the greatest script ever!” The trouble is, everybody says that. You do have to get through the gate keeper – that is the agent – and I’m sure they hear “this is the greatest script ever” so many times. So the way we tend to work, and that we try to push everybody is, don’t go for your A-lister first. Go for your smaller roles. Try and attach somebody with a really good reputation, a really good CV, no name, but not somebody where your going to have to sell your house for their fee. Once you’ve got those attached it’s far easier to go to agents, the big guys, for your A-listers and say we’ve already got such-and-such attached and they immediately know that it’s a good project, it’s a legitimate project.

The first question I always get asked is ‘Is the financing in place?’

The useful thing for us, which is another piece of advice, is regardless of companies that package and develop projects, try and attach yourself with another production company, or producer etc. Because you want to at least be able to say we’re working with a company and we’ve made this, this and this or money is being tapped into for that for financing, so we’re confident that we will get the financing for this or we’re talking to these people and those sale agents and looking at soft financing in those countries etc. As long as you can give the agent an answer that isn’t purely “we don’t have any financing,” then they’ll take you a little bit more seriously. It’s just that they are gate-keepers and there is a reason for that.

I remember speaking to an agent in the UK about one of the A-listers on their books at the London Film Festival and they said after he just had a space of three big A-list movies released in the UK at one time, the amount of scripts he was getting on a daily basis had increased 200% just because everybody thought suddenly ”I want him in my project!” I think you need to be aware of the fact that no matter how good your script is it still has to compete with so many other projects trying to get in front of the actors. And as often as not it’s going to be read by the reader or the assistant to the actor before it gets anywhere near the actor. It is a hard process and there is no easy answer. It’s one of those perennial problems that if you genuinely want an A-list talent then you really do need an A-list script and there are very few out there. 

Just literally in the last couple of weeks one fell in my lap. Which is the first time I’ve ever read a script and thought yeah this is actually a bonafide A-list script and I sat on the plane reading it, tears pouring down my face praying that neither of the people sitting on either side of me could see. I’ll be surprised if I’ll ever see another script like that, to be quite honest. I think people do have to be aware that they might have a great scrip but it’s not necessarily a Brad Pitt or a George Clooney script, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not another great actor out there who’s going to read that script and think “I have to play that!” Someone who’s still going to be able to make sure that you get your film sold and it’s going to get out there.

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Front Page, Industry News

How Attractive is Your Package? (Part 2)

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

Chris Hastings, whose company specializes in feature packaging (including casting services and script coverage and development), took a moment out of his hectic festival schedule to speak with me. This is a continuation of part 1 available here.

“It’s difficult because you do want to get films made, but my advice to filmmakers is not to sell your soul, because you spend a lot of your life making a film and getting it out there and developing it through all the various phases. So if you compromise at some stage and end up with something that you’re really unhappy with, you’ve just wasted all of that time.”

What are some pointers for packaging scripts?

The first thing that people tend to come to us for is we want such-and-such attached. You know, whether or not its Colin Firth or Brad Pitt – for some reason it always tends to be the person who’s just won an Oscar or has just been in the most successful film - and they always come to us saying “I’ve got the greatest script ever!” The trouble is, everybody says that. You do have to get through the gate keeper – that is the agent – and I’m sure they hear “this is the greatest script ever” so many times. So the way we tend to work, and that we try to push everybody is, don’t go for your A-lister first. Go for your smaller roles. Try and attach somebody with a really good reputation, a really good CV, no name, but not somebody where your going to have to sell your house for their fee. Once you’ve got those attached it’s far easier to go to agents, the big guys, for your A-listers and say we’ve already got such-and-such attached and they immediately know that it’s a good project, it’s a legitimate project.

The first question I always get asked is ‘Is the financing in place?’

The useful thing for us, which is another piece of advice, is regardless of companies that package and develop projects, try and attach yourself with another production company, or producer etc. Because you want to at least be able to say we’re working with a company and we’ve made this, this and this or money is being tapped into for that for financing, so we’re confident that we will get the financing for this or we’re talking to these people and those sale agents and looking at soft financing in those countries etc. As long as you can give the agent an answer that isn’t purely “we don’t have any financing,” then they’ll take you a little bit more seriously. It’s just that they are gate-keepers and there is a reason for that.

I remember speaking to an agent in the UK about one of the A-listers on their books at the London Film Festival and they said after he just had a space of three big A-list movies released in the UK at one time, the amount of scripts he was getting on a daily basis had increased 200% just because everybody thought suddenly ”I want him in my project!” I think you need to be aware of the fact that no matter how good your script is it still has to compete with so many other projects trying to get in front of the actors. And as often as not it’s going to be read by the reader or the assistant to the actor before it gets anywhere near the actor. It is a hard process and there is no easy answer. It’s one of those perennial problems that if you genuinely want an A-list talent then you really do need an A-list script and there are very few out there. 

Just literally in the last couple of weeks one fell in my lap. Which is the first time I’ve ever read a script and thought yeah this is actually a bonafide A-list script and I sat on the plane reading it, tears pouring down my face praying that neither of the people sitting on either side of me could see. I’ll be surprised if I’ll ever see another script like that, to be quite honest. I think people do have to be aware that they might have a great scrip but it’s not necessarily a Brad Pitt or a George Clooney script, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not another great actor out there who’s going to read that script and think “I have to play that!” Someone who’s still going to be able to make sure that you get your film sold and it’s going to get out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Front Page, Industry News

How Attractive is Your Package? (Part 2)

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

Chris Hastings, whose company specializes in feature packaging (including casting services and script coverage and development), took a moment out of his hectic festival schedule to speak with me. This is a continuation of part 1 available here.

“It’s difficult because you do want to get films made, but my advice to filmmakers is not to sell your soul, because you spend a lot of your life making a film and getting it out there and developing it through all the various phases. So if you compromise at some stage and end up with something that you’re really unhappy with, you’ve just wasted all of that time.”

What are some pointers for packaging scripts?

The first thing that people tend to come to us for is we want such-and-such attached. You know, whether or not its Colin Firth or Brad Pitt – for some reason it always tends to be the person who’s just won an Oscar or has just been in the most successful film - and they always come to us saying “I’ve got the greatest script ever!” The trouble is, everybody says that. You do have to get through the gate keeper – that is the agent – and I’m sure they hear “this is the greatest script ever” so many times. So the way we tend to work, and that we try to push everybody is, don’t go for your A-lister first. Go for your smaller roles. Try and attach somebody with a really good reputation, a really good CV, no name, but not somebody where your going to have to sell your house for their fee. Once you’ve got those attached it’s far easier to go to agents, the big guys, for your A-listers and say we’ve already got such-and-such attached and they immediately know that it’s a good project, it’s a legitimate project.

The first question I always get asked is ‘Is the financing in place?’

The useful thing for us, which is another piece of advice, is regardless of companies that package and develop projects, try and attach yourself with another production company, or producer etc. Because you want to at least be able to say we’re working with a company and we’ve made this, this and this or money is being tapped into for that for financing, so we’re confident that we will get the financing for this or we’re talking to these people and those sale agents and looking at soft financing in those countries etc. As long as you can give the agent an answer that isn’t purely “we don’t have any financing,” then they’ll take you a little bit more seriously. It’s just that they are gate-keepers and there is a reason for that.

I remember speaking to an agent in the UK about one of the A-listers on their books at the London Film Festival and they said after he just had a space of three big A-list movies released in the UK at one time, the amount of scripts he was getting on a daily basis had increased 200% just because everybody thought suddenly ”I want him in my project!” I think you need to be aware of the fact that no matter how good your script is it still has to compete with so many other projects trying to get in front of the actors. And as often as not it’s going to be read by the reader or the assistant to the actor before it gets anywhere near the actor. It is a hard process and there is no easy answer. It’s one of those perennial problems that if you genuinely want an A-list talent then you really do need an A-list script and there are very few out there. 

Just literally in the last couple of weeks one fell in my lap. Which is the first time I’ve ever read a script and thought yeah this is actually a bonafide A-list script and I sat on the plane reading it, tears pouring down my face praying that neither of the people sitting on either side of me could see. I’ll be surprised if I’ll ever see another script like that, to be quite honest. I think people do have to be aware that they might have a great scrip but it’s not necessarily a Brad Pitt or a George Clooney script, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not another great actor out there who’s going to read that script and think “I have to play that!” Someone who’s still going to be able to make sure that you get your film sold and it’s going to get out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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