Hallmark is much more than just a greeting card company. Whether it’s the holiday movies, the romantic comedies, or even its mysteries, many of us know and love the Hallmark channel. The stories just have this certain addictive cheesy quality to them, in the best way, of course! Think you’ve got the storytelling chops to match the movie style on Hallmark? Here’s how screenwriters get their stories in front of the network for consideration.
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No Unsolicited Scripts
Much like Netflix, Hallmark doesn’t accept unsolicited script submissions, which means that you can’t just send in a screenplay for consideration. The network will either forgo replying or flat-out reject it. It’s the case for a couple of reasons; 1) Hallmark doesn’t have readers to accept and review every screenplay they’d probably receive if they opened up a submission free-for-all, 2) accepting scripts that aren’t attached to an agent or aren’t copyrighted opens the network up to litigation if a writer ever feels they were infringed upon.
Find Someone Who Knows Someone at Hallmark
As with so many things in Hollywood, success often comes down to relationships. To get your screenplay in front of someone at Hallmark, you’ll want to find either a literary agent, a manager, a producer, or even an entertainment lawyer who has connections there. Make sure they’ve successfully passed scripts along in the past.
Do Your Research
How do you know if one of the people mentioned above has a relationship with Hallmark? My favorite tool for finding the people who know people is researching background information of agents, managers, and producers using IMDbPro. If you create an IMDbPro account (approximately $20 per month), you can review various Hallmark projects and see who worked on them. I think the price is well worth it. It gives you the unique ability not only to see the behind-the-scenes people who were attached to a show or movie (but aren’t in the credits) but also who else they’ve worked with and, most importantly, their contact information. Keep in mind that not all people listed on IMDbPro make their contact information available.
Representation is imperative when you’re looking to sell your script to networks that only accept submissions from agents, managers, or producers. Having a literary agent is particularly helpful since they specifically sell work and negotiate deals. If you’ve got yourself a substantial body of work, a couple of solid draft screenplays that others have read, or that have gained exposure through a contest or fellowship, then you might be ready for a manager or agent! If you use IMDbPro, you can look up your favorite Hallmark show or movie, look at the writers, and check out who represents them. The tool can be helpful to figure out who has connections to Hallmark and who you think would be able to represent best the type of writer you are. Don’t pigeonhole yourself, though; if you don’t plan on writing Hallmark-type scripts for the long haul, then an agent that focuses mainly on this type of storytelling may not be your best bet.
Packaging Your Script to Sell
Once you find your connection to Hallmark, they’ll likely guide you on how to package your script to sell. As writers know, our job isn’t over once we get a script to a place that we’re happy with. We have to then make it marketable. That includes developing a solid elevator pitch, having a logline and summary written, having a pitch deck and look book, or having a show bible prepared. Every project is different, so what you’ll need for pitching depends on certain variables, but keeping in mind or even generating some of these materials before you pitch to a manager, agent, or producer can help explain the world of your story to them. Looking at Hallmark projects and specifically seeing what makes them work, what makes them seem definitively “Hallmark,” can help you figure out how to pitch your own project as something that feels like it fits with Hallmark’s brand.
Unfortunately, there’s rarely a simple online portal that will just allow you to submit your script and have it appraised by a company for whether they want to buy it or not. You have to focus on networking and looking for opportunities to afford you the correct exposure and connections to help get yourself and your work out there. The best thing you can do right here and now is to continue writing in the style you love best, and if that’s the Hallmark style, then stay cheesy, my friend! Follow the correct avenues and keep working on the above strategy to sell your screenplay to Hallmark. I’ll be here waiting to watch your movie!