We often hear writers and producers bemoaning the fact that production companies won't consider unsolicited material. Why is that? Although we're honored you want us to look at your script or film there are reasons why we can't.
First off are the legal ramifications. In today's litigious media world, production companies fear being sued because you sent them a screenplay about sharks in a tornado, completely unaware they already had a similar movie in development. You assumed they stole your idea - which they didn't.
There are also professional reasons whey sending unsolicited material is a bad idea. When you send a script or film against a company policy you have just proven you can't (or won't) follow directions. What that says is "I don't have to follow your rules or listen to you." That's not the sort of person ANY production company wants to work with. Continuing emailing or calling for an update just makes it worse. Communication stops and the material is either returned to the sender unread or gets thrown in the trash.
So how do you get companies to look at your work? Know the right approach.
Producers and agents by their basic nature are too busy to read anything they don't have to. But they're all afraid of missing THE NEXT BIG THING.
You need to persuade them that you're THE NEXT BIG THING.
Although it requires some upfront work, it's easier than you think. Start with:
- Develop your online persona. Have profiles on all the major social media sites with plenty of posts showing your subject matter expertise.
- Meet heads of production companies, producers and agents in 'real life' at conferences, film festivals and screenwriter events.
- Make sure you can deliver your log line (not your tagline) conversationally. If you can't explain you project in 60 seconds you have a problem.
- Ask your contacts if they'd be interested in reading a One Page Treatment, rather than a script. For producers and agents, reading one page is a shorter time investment than scanning a script or watching a rough cut.
- If they decline, ask them if you can touch base in 3 months or son. If they say "Yes," follow up in 3 months and see if they'd be willing to look at your One Pager now.
- If they say "Yes" to the One Pager, send it and let some time pass. Don't hassle them. Wait 4-6 weeks before following up.
- If they write back and say they are interested in your project, send it. If they say it's not for them, thank them and move on.
Repeat the steps, build up your contacts and your name. Remember, you're playing the long game. No one ever "makes it" overnight. Even those who appear to have come out of nowhere have been toiling behind the scenes.