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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hollywood Calendar: 2009


Show business has its own peculiar rhythm. Whereas the mainstream American culture revolves around holidays like Christmas, New Years, Labor Day, winter/summer, the beginning of the school year, Hollywood revolves around film festivals, award shows, pilot season, fiscal end-of-year for production companies, Jewish High Holidays and Thanksgiv-chris-newyear-athon.

Is there a specific time when spec scripts are best to go out? Well, like everything in Hollywood, yes and no. It's like some playful god designed Hollywood with rules that are upside down, backwards and ever-changing, just to mess with us mortals, isn't it? If I had to warrant an opinion as to when spec season is at its best, I'd say it's sometime between mid-January through July.

Many production companies have a fiscal year that ends in October. That means in general, that by July or August, they're out of money to buy anything new. But then from Thanksgiving through the first of the year, when business is famously slow because of the holidays, nobody's buying much anyway. Anybody who's anybody is off skiing in Vail or snorkeling in Maui.

On the one hand, as I mentioned recently, during the slower winter holidays is when today's assistant/tomorrow's executive is manning the desk and that person might be more open to reading a new script. So I'm not counseling not to send in material this time of year. But be aware that this town is awful quiet from Thanksgiving through the New Year. It just is.

Many agents, managers and executives also attend the various Important Film Festivals, most notably, Sundance and Cannes and are busy a week or two before and a week or two after. While the anti-semitic urban myth that Hollywood is dominated by Jews is despicable, there is a fair Jewish population in Los Angeles and who work in the industry and the High Holidays which arrive in September/October each year do slow things down because so many do go to temple services and are otherwise engaged in solemn festivities. Not everybody. But a fair number. If you're interested in phoning up or setting up a meeting in Hollywood, you'd be silly not to be aware of when Yom Kippur is, now wouldn't you?

So here is a calendar of events for 2009 that you might want to jot down:

THE GOLDEN GLOBES
January 11th

SUNDANCE
January 15th through 25th

ACADEMY AWARDS
February 22nd

CANNES
May 13th through 24th

TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
September 10th through September 19th

JEWISH HIGH HOLIDAYS
(This includes Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement)
September 18th through September 29th

The spec season isn't like the Kentucky Derby, heralded with big hats and a trumpet blare; it's on and off, here and there. In a way, it's easier to look at the events above and see when it's NOT a great idea to send out query letters - late in the summer when there are no events but everybody's broke and the winter holidays are closing in fast, during Sundance and during Cannes. Again, roughly from the end of January through June or so is the best time to get out there with query letters.

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3 comments:

Kevin R Wright said...

Helo, just found your blog this morning and read through a ton of archived entries. You really give wonderful advice, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

sooo.... sounds like the only good months to send queries are February, March, April, and June. This is helpful to know that the rest of the months we should just be focusing on writing our fingers to the bone.
Thanks for another great post Julie! ~ Trina

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Julie! It's another piece of information worth of gold that many people don't rush to share. I love your blog! Every day is a discovery.
LS