Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Birthday Gift to You

Another Life has been to 12 film festivals around the nation... and now it comes home to you.

Today is my birthday, and as my birthday gift to you, I am proud to finally present to you the full short film of Another Life. Enjoy!

ANOTHER LIFE -- Short Thriller
A female veteran has three days to kill a fellow soldier or they both die.

Written and directed by Nathan Ruegger. Produced by Elizabeth Manashil, Mitsuyo Miyazki, and Min Zhang.

Cinematography by Jay Visit. Edited by Beth Moody. Sound Design by Chris Whetstone, Cesar Arvizo, Kari Barber, and Rebecca Chan. Original Score by John Jennings Boyd.

Shot on Super16mm.

contact: nate.ruegger (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Repped at Last

That's right, folks. Yesterday, I signed with a literary manager at a major company.

At our brief but wonderful meeting, my manager and I worked out a basic plan: I'll send her my scripts this week, we'll pick the best of my ideas to write next, and she'll get to work finding a buyer for my scripts while I get to work writing her a new script.

It's a little scary how simple this all is -- From now on, I just keep writing and working with my manager. That's my job. I'm sure I'll find a way to get used to it :)

And it's all thanks to you. I am announcing right here and now that I landed official representation as a screenwriter in Hollywood because of this blog.

Since 2009, I have shared with you my latest endeavors as an emerging writer-director via Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. Through this blog, I was able to share exciting news, socialize with friends old and new, and make the necessary connections that lead to meeting my manager.

More details coming as I am allowed to divulge them, but most importantly, thank you all so much for your shares, comments, and support. This wouldn't be possible without you.

Now, I need to get back to a new draft for my manager... but damn, that felt good to write.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to Query

Last week, 7 Managers requested my action screenplay. Here's how I did it:

In the past, I extolled the virtues of Networking and Applying to Screenwriting Competitions -- and I still do -- they're the #1 and #2 ways to get your script read by the best of Hollywood -- but after my string of non-luck in 2011, I'm ready for #3 again.

Cold Query E-mails. In three steps. Oh yeah.

1) Draft the Email

And by draft the email, I mean write a killer logline. I've written about this before, even with a first draft formula, but never forget: raise the stakes, make it original, and practice pitching. I didn't feel ready to query until I rewrote my logline dozens of time with help from my friends.

Remember, agents and managers deal with pitches all the time, day after day, year after year -- and if they are going to give you the time of day, your logline needs to stand out.

Which is also why you gotta make your email short. Here's what worked for me:
Dear [First Name],

I thought you might be interested in my new script:

[TITLE] -- [Genre]
[Logline].[MOVIE #1 meets MOVIE #2].

Thank you for your time.

[Your Name]
[Personal Website]
2) Make a List

And by list I mean an Excel Spreadsheet of all the agencies, management companies, and production companies in town. This is where your research comes into play --, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, IMDbPro, The Wrap, TrackingB, The Black List, etc. -- to find the names of ALL the companies. Not just the big ones. ALL THE HOLLYWOOD. More on that later.

Then you need to make a list of individual agents, managers, and development execs at those companies -- and you find their email addresses. No, not "" off of their corporate website. You need their individual company email addresses. But how?

I've been able to find email addresses through IMDbPro and google searches -- but mostly through networking. Working as a Hollywood assistant, you collect email addresses from major Hollywood players, or just e-mail structures like Also, fellow writer friends have shared their query lists with me too. So don't stop networking!

Then once you have compiled hundreds -- seriously, HUNDREDS -- of email addresses, then you're ready for the final step:

3) Email Everyone

That's right. Everyone. All at once. Not just the people who represent/hire writers in your genre, style, niche, etc. All of Hollywood. Paper the town. Here's why:

The tide can turn so quickly. The agent who represents comedy writers today could represent horror writers tomorrow. For example, after The Devil Inside made a surprising box office smash this past weekend, I imagine everyone in Hollywood might want their hands on the next found footage horror script. So you never know if you're querying the right or wrong person.

But do use some discretion. For example, I would suggest querying one rep per company unless the company is huge. If you email 1-2 reps at a time, wait a month for a response, then email another 1-2 reps at that company, you might get a better response then carpet-bombing everyone at the company with emails and expecting a personal, passionate response.

And here's the pep talk.

This is a lot of work. Not something you do in an afternoon. This takes hours and hours. Days and days. It took me weeks of working on the logline, compiling the list, drafting hundreds of emails, and then sending them all off... with only a 1% response.

After 400 something emails, I got 7 responses... and already one manager passed. But this is the number one rule of screenwriting: DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED.

So 3 months later, change the wording of the logline, and do it again. Or even better -- send out a new logline for the new script you finished in those 3 months. Because the first thing anyone will ask after a positive read is "What else do you have?" and it better be in the same brand as your last script and you better send it immediately. So keep writing and keep fighting.

Remember, no one fails in Hollywood -- you only fail if you give up.

Don't give up.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Will Be Our Year

To be honest, 2011 sucked for me.

Car broke down. Lost my job. My wife got cancer. My wife lost her job. A full year of almost-successes with film fests, producers, distributors, agents, managers... with little to no concrete achievements that I can point to.

But with the proper prospective, this is how "Breaking In" really works. Step by step. Script by script. Meeting by meeting. Year by year. It takes time, hard work, and patience.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
Based on last year's "mistakes,", this year I will...
What mistakes will you make this year?