February 12, 2008

Even Famous People Check Their Email...

About a month ago, I was really aching for a good story that I could adapt into a screenplay and eventually produce as a short film. It's common for me to read books, magazine articles, short stories, etc. and immediately start to mentally shoot their cinematic versions in my head. I'm a filmmaker at heart...it's what I do. During this time I had been reading a series of books by one of my favorite authors, and nearly everything of his that I've read would make a great movie.

So, whilst hankering for a new story, an idea popped into my head: why not email this author (the one I had been reading) and ask him if he would be O.K. with me adapting one or two of his shorter works into film? The worse that cold happen is that he'd say no, or just not reply at all. At best, however, he might (just might) say "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?"

With a quick Google search, I found an email address for him that looked legitimate, copied it into my email, and proceeded to write him a lengthy message about who I was, what my interests in film were, how much I loved his work, and so on. After a sufficient introduction (and careful wording...I didn't want him thinking I was some kind of fanatic stalker or anything; you know how it is when you're talking to a celebrity), I straight-up asked him my question: "How do you feel about somebody like me adapting one of your works into a short film?" And that was it.

30 minutes passed before I received a reply from the man himself. 30 minutes! He basically said "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?" No joke. He was friendly, he was appreciative of my praise for his writings, and he was more than approachable. I emailed him right back, told him of a few stories I liked. He replied again (same day), and said he'd mail me his collected short works (actual bound copies), just to be sure I had them to read! 2 weeks later, I got a box in the mail with 3 books, free of charge, and have been reading through them ever since. Just so you all know, I am almost done with the second of the 3 books, and I have a running list of 5 stories that I am considering for adaptations.

What's the moral to my tale? Even famous people check their email. Whether or not they respond to everything they get, that's a different story. I was lucky to get such a speedy reply (or any reply for that matter). But I had a valid question, I went about it in a professional manner, and I didn't say anything that would allude to my insanity (just kidding). No, really, celebrities are real people, and I bet most of them would LOVE to be treated like normal folk, even in their emails.

If you have a valid question for a celebrity, I think email is a great way to get your voice heard. Just keep a few things in mind:

1. Be yourself. Don't let your nervousness lead you to write stupid things that if said in person would get you a punch to the face.

2. Keep it brief. They may check their email, but they're pretty busy and won't want to read an essay (like this one I'm writing here...they'd NEVER read this; It's way too long).

3. Spell check. Trust me, it makes a difference.

4. Thank them for...Their time. Their influence in your life. Their sense of humor. Their cause. Whatever it is that has had an impact on you in your life. Be genuine. Don't be a kiss-a**.

5. Leave enough contact info for them to #1) be able to get back to you, and #2) feel assured that you aren't some freaky psycho hiding behind some alpha-numeric screen pseudonym.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes. I've had similar success with TV/movie producers, writers, a film actor, and my buddy Marc (who isn't a celebrity, but pretends he is).

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