screenplay Which Production Companies Are Buying Unsolicited Scripts?

Hi - Does anyone know of any production companies who will consider and can pay for unsolicited screenplays?

I have a number of scripts of different genres and am finding it time-wasting to search for production companies online accepting unsolicited scripts.

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It turns out usually/so far that they don't. Even though information is posted as 2021.

I'm on Network ISA which posts leads, but not too often.

Useful information welcome, thanks!
 
I don’t know of any. To further complicate things, most production companies claim automatic IP to any unsolicited script or pilot that is submitted to them.

It’s pretty much a necessity to have an agent, or for cable/network series, a rapport with a showrunner who has an established relationship with the network(s).
 
I don’t know of any. To further complicate things, most production companies claim automatic IP to any unsolicited script or pilot that is submitted to them.

It’s pretty much a necessity to have an agent, or for cable/network series, a rapport with a showrunner who has an established relationship with the network(s).
Thank for your reply. I heard it's just as difficult to get an agent without having any industry connections. So what are you supposed to do? It's not like every movie is so great that fresh talent isn't needed either...
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Start by making a few ultra-low budget shorts and work on getting some attention for those via film festivals. You can can direct yourself or team up with an aspiring director. Keep them simple - a few characters & one or two locations.

Get them out into the world, submit them to festivals that you can afford to attend so you can network. Network with people with projects that you admire/respect. Later, rinse, and repeat.

That may help you to get sufficient positive attention that you can get an agent.

You can also try submitting to a few of the high level screenplay contests, especially the Nicholls Fellowship. Placing well will certainly get you attention.

To put it another way: no production company buys unsolicited scripts. So you need to get into a position where they ASK to read your script.
 
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Thank you for your reply miesemann.

That just seems such a waste of time - why not just be able to send in scripts to production companies without all the song and dance? And in many cases, money.

Not that I disbelieve you. There's a whole lot of nonsense that goes on around the film industry. Including paying agents and other people for their 'opinion'.

Who cares about their opinion? What matters are sales and getting screenplays made into ass-kicking movies.

Surely there are some producers out there hungry for good scripts who would appreciate considering them directly.
 
That just seems such a waste of time - why not just be able to send in scripts to production companies without all the song and dance?
So, why put in all the effort and time up front... y’know, actually work to build your career? Why not just fast-forward to million-dollar contract?

Because it takes a lot to build your career, not just trying to throw a script at someone and expecting an immediate sale. There are thousands of other “screenwriters” out there who think they’re writing the best things ever, but... are they? Maybe, maybe not. But you have to distinguish yourself from the rest of them.
 
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So, why put in all the effort and time up front... y’know, actually work to build your career? Why not just fast-forward to million-dollar contract?

Because it takes a lot to build your career, not just trying to throw a script at someone and expecting an immediate sale. There are thousands of other “screenwriters” out there who think they’re writing the best things ever, but... are they? Maybe, maybe not. But you have to distinguish yourself from the rest of them.

Come on now - if a script is good/great/whatever, that's the way it is.

Again, why dance around?

To me life is the trial and education and selling a script should be like any other business; you like it or you don't, you think this will sell or it won't.

You invest accordingly,

Why not just get to the point?

Read scripts and make deals.

Or not.
 
You might try submitting to screenplay competitions. Yes, it will also involve spending some money, but not so much as making a short. If you have a really kickass script it will likely rise to the top in competitions and you might get some notice that way.
Thanks, but screenplay competitions really seem such a ridiculous sub-culture of film to me. I want to make money from my screenplays, not pay to get useless attention. Yes I know people will give examples where a rare few who paid to enter film competitions actually got paid some money down the line, I bet they are rare.

Whilst others feed off the hunger of others unnecessarily.
 
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You know what’s even more rare? An absolute unknown selling the next great script with no track record.

This is the way the industry works. You are a business and have to run your career as such. That means marketing, networking, and taking on the cost of producing the first few tangible products for potential investors to see.

Good luck.

Definition of entitlement

1a: the state or condition of being entitled : RIGHT
b: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract

2: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges
 
So... no representation, no current connections to producers, no attempt to get noticed through festivals, no competitions... just get your script into the hands of a producer that might want to buy it? That's what you are proposing?

Do you have any concept of the number of scripts there are floating around in the world and why producers might want to put up barriers to anyone just being able to drop off a script as you are proposing? In addition to the amount of time they would be wasting reading A LOT of very bad scripts, there is also the fear of litigation. Even with all the barriers in place, good producers have to spend a great deal of time reading the scripts that do make it through (technically, they will have readers pre-screening and only the ones that get a "recommend" will get to the ultimate decision maker). Not sure how much producers would be producing if they opened the doors to unsolicited scripts.

While you are right, that there are many people out there preying on hopeful screenwriters by taking their money, the fact is making a film or winning a competition is a very good way for an unknown to get some notice. You are also right in speculating that there are only a handful of success stories out there, but you are taking the wrong conclusion from that. The fact is, there are very, very, very few really good screenplays out there. That's why there are only a handful of success stories, not because this is all some big scam.

Again, why dance around?

To me life is the trial and education and selling a script should be like any other business; you like it or you don't, you think this will sell or it won't.

You invest accordingly,

Why not just get to the point?

Read scripts and make deals.

Because you don't understand why there is "dancing around" in an industry that's been around over 100 years and growing, tells me you don't understand the competition you are up against. You might be an extremely talented screenwriter, but you don't yet understand the business you profess to want to enter. Maybe just consider what some of the experienced people here are trying to say before dismissing them so quickly.
 
Thank you IvonV.

I appreciate your post a lot and look, I'm not dismissing experienced people here 'so quickly' as you suggest. I'm listening, I'm learning, and I still think it's a ridiculous state of affairs that screenwriters are often pressed to pay to have their creations considered by people who will ,make money out of them if they take the screenwriter on.

Does this happen in any other industry?

For example music or fashion?

Literature?

Do people with talent often pay to be 'considered'?

Perhaps they do, I've never heard of it, but paying upfront for one's art to be considered for representation reeks of exploitation to me.
 
Does this happen in any other industry?

For example music or fashion?

Literature?

Do people with talent often pay to be 'considered'?

Perhaps they do, I've never heard of it, but paying upfront for one's art to be considered for representation reeks of exploitation to me.
Yes, it happens in other industries.

Musicians put in countless hours practicing, shaping their styles and sounds, They spend their own money on time in recording studios (or, more recently, building bedroom recording systems) to cut their demos and EPs. They put in so much of themselves building their audiences and marketing themselves for the right exposure. They spend their own money on merchandise for their shows. They couch-surf and roadtrip to book shows in dive bars and coffee shops. Recording contracts don’t just happen on a first demo recording.

Same goes for literature. Write, self-publish, build an audience, network with publishers once there’s something to show that has already gotten some attention.

Fashion? Yep, same deal.

I think you’re mis-categorizing the idea of what costs really are. You aren’t “paying to be considered”. You’re working your ass off to build your brand and to build an audience or a fan base. Again, you’re a business. A small business, but a business. It takes money to start a business. There’s the old adage, “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” You are your first investor.

And who are you to say that your screenplay is that good? Yes, you wrote it and you’re proud of it, but that’s hardly an unbiased, objective evaluation of the work. It may or may not be as good as you think it is, but that doesn’t really matter at this point. It won’t matter until you’ve built an audience on the independent circuit and done the legwork of networking and making connections. Until you’ve done that, you won’t know for sure.
 
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Just to add: this doesn’t only apply to screen writers in the industry.

I bought my first sound gear package (bag, mixer, a couple of wireless systems, a boom kit) out of my own pocket back in the 90s. By that, I mean that I took a gamble and spent quite a bit on a kit I didn’t yet have the work to go with it. Yes, I had the money in hand, but it’s much better buying gear when work is coming in to pay for it.

The first feature film didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it didn’t happen for almost 20 years. Cable network shows and lots of short films happened much sooner, but I had to do the legwork. I had to take on crappy jobs to get better jobs. The bigger shows aren’t going to hire an unknown, but somebody who has shown some experience. And more than that, I spent a lot of time getting to know people wherever I worked. That networking got me more opportunities than my credit list on low-level productions did.

It’s 25 years (and several iterations of my sound package) later and I just finished building a brand-new hybrid bag/cart system from the ground up, but I have the work to pay for it. And it’s almost entirely paid off now. I started that project in November of last year.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do in this industry. We all have to work hard to get to where we want to be, and it costs a bit out of pocket at the beginning.
 
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One last thought for the night, and this is important:

Why won’t production companies look at unsolicited screenplays? In many cases, their legal departments advise them not to.

Let’s say you send in your super-awesome, amazing script and the production company already has something similar in the pipeline. If they read your screenplay, even if their similar show is already in production, they open themselves up to accusations of theft. Same reason cable networks either trash unsolicited pilots without watching them, or automatically claim IP ownership if they do watch it.

And there are unscrupulous production companies put there that will outright steal your script and hide behind plausible deniability. It’s actually very difficult to do anything about it.

Again, this is why you need to have representation. It’s also another reason why you need to put in the work to build yourself up, get exposure, and network. As Mara said, get yourself to the point where people are soliciting your screenplays.
 
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Very happy to hear you are not dismissing what the people on this forum have to offer you @EnglishinMiami

Do people with talent often pay to be 'considered'?

I can't answer this question confidently, but I suspect that most talented people had to put in $ or a lot of time before their talent was acknowledged and they no longer had to "audition for the part". It's possible that you, like so many, see the end result and have no idea of what successful people went through before they made it.

I can confirm this goes on in most industries. People go into business with people they know or trust. All others must put in something if they want to do business. The buy in becomes steeper the bigger the player. I've worked in military/defense, the film business, IT and the automotive industry. You have to make extremely large commitments of money and time to play in the big leagues in any of those industries.

The key is to understand what @AcousticAl has been saying. You need to understand the business side of the industry you want to play in. There is you, the screenwriter and there is your screenwriting business. You really need to spend a lot of time writing your scripts and developing your talent, but you will also need to spend a lot of time understanding the business if you hope to sell it. You asked a very specific question to start this. It started with the premise that you shouldn't have to pay to play. I can't imagine there's a person here that wishes it weren't so, but you do have to pay to play. If you figure out a way around this, please come back and let us know. Hell, you can even sell your secret to success like so many do.

There are millions and millions of people that want to be a part of the film business. I've never seen more opportunity than now, but the buyers are still a small group compared to the sellers. If you know supply and demand, there is multiple times the amount of supply than there is demand. Your job now is to figure out how to get in front of the buyers with your script. You are going to have to invest a lot of time -- and probably money -- before you even get a shot at it.
 
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Just to add: this doesn’t only apply to screen writers in the industry.

I bought my first sound gear package (bag, mixer, a couple of wireless systems, a boom kit) out of my own pocket back in the 90s. By that, I mean that I took a gamble and spent quite a bit on a kit I didn’t yet have the work to go with it. Yes, I had the money in hand, but it’s much better buying gear when work is coming in to pay for it.

The first feature film didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it didn’t happen for almost 20 years. Cable network shows and lots of short films happened much sooner, but I had to do the legwork. I had to take on crappy jobs to get better jobs. The bigger shows aren’t going to hire an unknown, but somebody who has shown some experience. And more than that, I spent a lot of time getting to know people wherever I worked. That networking got me more opportunities than my credit list on low-level productions did.

It’s 25 years (and several iterations of my sound package) later and I just finished building a brand-new hybrid bag/cart system from the ground up, but I have the work to pay for it. And it’s almost entirely paid off now. I started that project in November of last year.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do in this industry. We all have to work hard to get to where we want to be, and it costs a bit out of pocket at the beginning.
Thanks, reading this I came up with an idea that could help my movies get made. Wishing you great luck with your hybrid cart system!
 
Your best bet -- based on reading everything here? Is to query Managers instead of agents. Agents simply will NOT read unsolicited material because they've been programmed to avoid possible lawsuits should they already be developing a concept similar to something you have.

Managers on the other hand... If they LIKE your material and more important... CAN SELL YOUR MATERIAL are willing to read a query in an email as long as your logline is GOOD. That means high concept. Nobody's looking for small, indie-type projects these days. If they're making an in indie-type project? It's usually a passion project and they already have the material.

Having said ALL that? Your query has to be brief and to the point... Get to the concept quickly. A little less than half a page is all you need. Always let them know you're willing to sign a release for their protection.

If you manage to get a manager? They know plenty of agents they can refer you to should they end up LIKING your material.
 
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Your best bet -- based on reading everything here? Is to query Managers instead of agents. Agents simply will NOT read unsolicited material because they've been programmed to avoid possible lawsuits should they already be developing a concept similar to something you have.

Managers on the other hand... If they LIKE your material and more important... CAN SELL YOUR MATERIAL are willing to read a query in an email as long as your logline is GOOD. That means high concept. Nobody's looking for small, indie-type projects these days. If they're making an in indie-type project? It's usually a passion project and they already have the material.

Having said ALL that? Your query has to be brief and to the point... Get to the concept quickly. A little less than half a page is all you need. Always let them know you're willing to sign a release for their protection.

If you manage to get a manager? They know plenty of agents they can refer you to should they end up LIKING your material.
Thank you! Sounds good, will follow your advice.
 
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