Today marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of the Eager Beavers’ historic 16 June 1943 mission to Bougainville and Buka.
To mark the occasion, I’m putting a handful of envelopes like the one in the photo in the mail. I mailed a similar batch this past Monday, and will again in a few days. I’ll continue to do so over the next couple of weeks.
Each letter is addressed to either a manager or agent for a television or film producer. All the producers I’m contacting have credits for television series or miniseries, and in historical and/or biographical stories either in television or film. Most of them helped produce series like Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Masters of the Air, Hatfields & McCoys, and Texas Rising, or films like Unbroken, Lone Survivor, Hacksaw Ridge, Dunkirk, Midway, and The Last Full Measure.
The aim is to hook them on the idea of a limited television series—titled Above and Beyond—telling the story of the Eager Beavers, and their forgotten corner of World War II. It’s the culmination of two years of work creating and revising the eight-episode series breakdown (which resulted in much all-new original research into the story), and finally revising the query to be as compelling as possible. (Not to mention, this past year, starting a side writing enterprise that working screenwriter friends told me would increase my cred and thus my chance of getting read.)
Amazingly to me, the market for a series like this seems to never have been better, with new WWII and/or MoH miniseries and films being announced on a regular basis. With Hanks and Spielberg’s Masters of the Air series finally coming out late this year or early next, I expect interest to climb even more. That’s another reason for my making a full-court press on the story now, as attention and excitement builds for Masters of the Air. (Which to me isn’t competition but a complement.)
I’ve been around the screenwriting industry long enough to know that ultimately, especially for someone on the outskirts of the industry like me but even for A-list screenwriters, it’s always a matter of who you catch, and when, and in what mood. Spec projects are always a crapshoot. The most you can do is to do your research, and write the best damn query and story you can.
I’ve revised my query a number of times over the years, ever since I first tried selling a feature version of the story back in the ’90s, but that original query got me an unheard-of 60% request-to-read response. Not surprisingly, I’ve stuck to the spirit of that original as much as I can while including important selling points that didn’t exist then. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, at least much.
I’m not going to share the whole thing, but except for a line of personalization for some reps, it’s always begun with the same hook:
The aircrew in the photo is the most highly decorated in American history. So, too, is their final mission together, an epic in combat aviation. Their amazing true story has never been told on the big or small screen.
It worked then. Hopefully it will work again now. Wish them luck.
Any major news on that front, you’ll see here. And you might hear it as well.