With over 100 million subscribers, Netflix is an online film powerhouse. Almost every single producer, screenwriter, and filmmaker dream about getting their film or TV show on Netflix.
As a screenwriter myself I’m one of these dreamers. So I scowled the internet to find the answer.
To sell your script to Netflix, you can do one of two things. First: develop a relationship with certain employees of Netflix or two, send your script through a query letter to Netflix’ licensed literary agent. IMDB Pro can help you find be a helpful tool to use if you know how to use it correctly.
In this post we’re going to show you exactly how to do this for each method.
Strap in, because I’m about to show you how to pitch a movie idea to Netflix!
How to find the people who work with Netflix?
For the record, Netflix puts the following on their website:
Netflix employs a team of creative executives and buyers, who receive pitches for shows and movies.
Netflix may generate an idea internally and hire writers or other creatives to develop those ideas further.
Meaning there are people at the company whose job it is to hear your idea. Or they could hire you to write something they already have in the works or rewrite if the current screenwriter isn’t working out.
The question is how to find these people that work at Netflix?
1. Use IMDB Pro to find producers
Finding people who work with Netflix is easy and hard at the same time. Here’s the easy part. Just log in to your Netflix account or do a quick Google search. For example, I just googled the Netflix film Bird Box:
I just found five people who have working relationships with Netflix in this search result card. And there are even more from the credits of the film at the end of it.
If you look past the cast and go deeper into the credits you will find the big dogs who make the decisions. Just check out this list of executive and associate producers for this movie.
These are the people you need to seek out. They are the ones who could immediately get your script in front of other decision makers.
By the way, I found that list of producers on IMDB.com. IMDB.com is a site that every person looking to break into film should have an account with.
In our post on places to submit scripts, we show you how to use IMDB Pro to increase your chances of selling your script.
From here you can find agents, managers, writers, producers and contact them directly. SIMPLE, right!?
Now, are you going to be able to contact Sandra Bullock? That’s a hard no. But the third producer on the list might have an email if you have an
Another solution that Netflix suggests is finding a literary agent that works with Netflix. Netflix is ramping up production with more Hollywood stars that are in need of more content to produce.
But Netflix doesn’t have literary agents, right? Or do they?
As literary scouts for Netflix, Maria B. Campbell and her colleagues identify adult and children’s books for adaption to film and television. They just became Netflix’s sole scouts for new upcoming projects.
Find out what types of books they take seriously in this regard.
Contact the author and ask to adapt the book into a script. Approach them with a query letter.
If you want to send them a query letter listen to the video below about how to get their attention.
This method might not be as simple but it’s definitely a way in.
I’d just like to add that before you pitch Netflix make sure your script is ready.
Give it to people to read and get notes on their feedback. But don’t just give it to anyone. Find another Hollywood screenwriter. Find out how you can hire a Hollywood screenwriter to grade your script below.
How to Pitch Netflix
Once you do the digging and have found your connection, it’s time to make the pitch. When it comes to selling your project it’s best to go with some heat.
There are numerous suppliers of content out there since everybody wants to get a deal with Netflix. Therefore, it makes lots of sense to find ways of making your project rise above the rest for you to get noticed.
The following are some questions to help you refine your pitch:
1.) Do you have big names in your pitch?
This includes an online celebrity. This could mean a popular actor, a producer with a lot of contacts, or a casting director.
How do you get these people involved? Once you get a meeting set up, contacting these people to see if they would want to join your pitch gets easier. Just use the IMDB method above.
2.) Is it High Concept?
A high concept is a movie that can be pitched in a few sentences or in a movie poster or thumbnail. It’s a production that can have worldwide appeal. Something that transcends language.
This is important especially online as producers don’t want something that an audience can scroll past.
I wrote a blog post that goes over spec scripts and the definition of high concept you can read here.
3.) Do you have a strong social media following?
Building a following might seem like it doesn’t matter. But check out the short 80’s flick Kung Fury. Writer/Director David Sandberg got the attention of Netflix because his short generated almost 40 million views on YouTube first.
You can think it’s ridiculous if you want. Something with that BOOM online will get noticed by Netflix. Remember they are always watching what’s popular online.
Writing for Netflix is revealing a different kind of screenwriting. Writers for TV and film have proved to be the same over the years whereby you pitch a screenplay to get noticed and then hope for a deal.
There are thousands of titles at Netflix and viewers scroll through to find what they want to watch.
They can navigate with speed to get what catches their eye, but this speed comes with the need for films and TV to be appealing. For a viewer to stop and click a movie it takes a lot of ingredients. Again think High Concept.
Now when your talking to your connection makes sure you don’t rule your other options out. If they want to make your film, you shouldn’t be upset if it’s not going on Netflix.
Thousands of people get turned down every day for their idea or their spec-script. Take what they’re offering you to get in the door. You get another chance then.
What type of Scripts does Netflix want?
Let’s look at the films that were produced and released just last year.
Take a look at the genre section of the list. Do you see a pattern? I know I do. They seem to gravitate towards comedy, romance, and drama.
This isn’t to say writing anything else won’t stand a chance but look at the actions they decided to put money behind.
For the answer to this, we can look at other people and how they got their content in their hands with a Netflix representative. More importantly why Netflix picked them over all the rest.
The name of the game is IP (intellectual property). Content that has an audience attached from a popular book, comic book, historical time frame, etc.
Adi Shankar who works with Netflix got his animation up and running from licensing IP from a popular video game.
What we can conclude is a little bit of everything. Or a little bit of everything popular.
Yes, Netflix is looking for star power nowadays, but star power comes in many ways. A producer, actor a casting director, or if you just flat out have the attention aka the Buzz they will reach out to you.
In other words, be so good that they want to have a meeting with you. as they did with these examples.
When writing for Netflix, write short films
Did you know Stranger things started as a short film created by the duff brothers in 2007 called “Eater”
Even if you are just a writer take some cash and make a short of your project. Get someone to direct and produce it.
And you might be thinking “I’m not willing to do that”.
Well, other creators are, and for this highly competitive market, you have to be willing to take one more step than the other guy. Persistence is key. Stranger Things film was first rejected twenty times by several tv networks across the United States. R
Now it’s time to hear from you:
What did you learn from this post that you will try?
If you did try any of the options, what success did you have?
Whatever your answers are let’s hear them in the comments below.