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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).
PCs do not lay claim to IPs submitted to them. That's absurd. You have been vastly mis-informed.
 
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.
Here's why PCs don't take unsolicited material:
1) They'd constantly get sued for "stealing ideas". Non-pros all think thier script is "original". It's not. A Non-Derivative Script (as it's called) is extremely rare. If I read your war script, reject it, and then start making a war movie, you'll file a lawsuit claiming I stole your story. I didn't and can prove it, but it's cheaper and easier to give you $25,000 to go away than to stop production on my $10 mil movie. If I don't accept unsolicited materials, that never happens.
Now I could have you sign a release so you can't sue, but if I do that 10,000 people will submit scripts to me. What am I going to do? Hire 100 Readers to read scripts I didn't ask for?
2) For a Producer to be credited as the "Produced By" Producer by the PGA (and get the big $$$$), he must originate the idea for the project. In practice, that means the Producer must either write the script or put out a script call, i.e., "War scripts wanted."

If you want to sell your material, learn to produce or build a relationship with a Producer. But remember, anyone can write a screenplay, and it takes more than a screenplay to be a Screenwriter.

You are, however, right about buying opinions
 
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.
Not only is it exploitation, it's illegal for anyone who can move your project forward to take money from you to read your script.
Pay for a class and learn, but do not pay for a "recommend" or so-called "script coverage". You get read by pitching, not paying.
 
I think the main point that's been made in this thread is that there are no way direct ways to get your script in front of reputable producers as an unknown. Every bit of advice you've been given I would classify as an "indirect way" to eventually get your script in front of a producer that might turn your screenplay into a film. Any of these approaches will require an investment of your time and probably some money.

However @geckopelli just posted something I think really needs addressing. Under no circumstances should you pay someone that claims to have access to a reputable producer. Anyone that asks you to pay to get your script in front of producer X or production company Y is a con. If they aren't a total con and actually have access, they will soon be severed from that access. No legitimate producer or production company will ask you to pay to read your script. Hope that's clear.

The advice you've been given is that there are many paths to EVENTUALLY get your script to producers. Any of those paths will require work on your part and very likely some $ to get you there. I myself used the term "pay to play", I will correct myself and say "invest to play". I see the money you will spend building your career as an investment. Even @Unknown Screenwriter's advice about finding a manager might cost some money, as I would suggest you get some legal advice before you sign an agreement with a manager if you elect to go that route. I personally think his advice was excellent.

The point is, you are very unlikely to get a direct shot at a producer. I suspect that's what you were looking for and I can understand it made sense to you that it should work that way. Unfortunately, it doesn't. You will need to do some work and probably spend some money on one of the indirect ways that have been recommended here.
 
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Does this happen in any other industry?

For example music or fashion?

Literature?

Do people with talent often pay to be 'considered'?
Especially music. You will see many posts where musicians offer their work for free, just so they can build up their resume. I see a lot of projects where actors "pay to play," sometimes $1000 or more, in order to get a speaking part. They are also building up their resume, reel, etc. Until people are "established," it is really hard to get paid in this industry. You will also hear of many unestablished filmmakers, after spending 10s of 1000s on their movies, getting screwed by distributors. They see nothing, most of the time. It's really cut throat out there.
 
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I know this is a bit off topic from the original point of the post, but the topic has been brought up, so I figured I would weigh in with my stritctly amatuer opinion. It is my understanding that anyone calling themselves a "Script Consultant" who says they can get your screenplay read by anyone of use in the industry is a scammer. Legitimate Script Consultants work with the writer during the revision process to help them get their screenplay ready to be shown. I'm sure Mara @mlesemann can elaborate on that.

I understand the position of not wanting to pay money to get your script "out there". I also understand the reality that (especially in Hollywood) time is money, and the people who can greenlight a project's time is worth more money than I have access to. I also know that I am not Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. Consequently, I have no problem at all paying a qualified professional, who knows what the industry is looking for, to assist me in making my work as good as I possibly can. An expression I use all of the time is, "I don't mind paying for what I get, as long as I get what I pay for."

Will paying a Script Consultant or Script Doctor get my script bought? No. Can it help me write a script that can place well in contests or potentially win a fellowship, and thus acquire representation, through which I may sell my screenplay? Yes. It is a tool, much like any other, that you pay to use and will only work as well as you let it.
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Legitimate Script Consultants work with the writer during the revision process to help them get their screenplay ready to be shown. I'm sure Mara @mlesemann can elaborate on that.
That's exactly right. I help writers to make their screenplays better by a combination of specific notes and recommendations as to how they can make it better. I point out plot holes, issues with the timing of the inciting incident, places where the story lags, dialogue and character development problems, and ways to tighten up excessively long screenplays. And yes, I often point out issues with formatting. I make recommendations as to how to fix these problems, which they can accept or reject as they like.
 
PCs do not lay claim to IPs submitted to them. That's absurd. You have been vastly mis-informed.
Vastly mis-informed by the production companies and cable networks I’ve worked for? Okay...

While it’s geared more toward unsolicited pilots, it’s out there. Granted, it’s mostly a defensive policy meant to discourage people from sending in their pilots. But I do know for a fact this policy has been out there for decades.
 
Unfortunately OR fortunately... Depending on HOW you LOOK at it? There's definitely a GRAY AREA that keeps expanding. My guess is because of the Internet. The Internet brings lots of different paths and avenues to getting read that we simply didn't have back in the day. The first script I ever sold was based on an email query so it can be done. Over the years, I've managed to build quite a few relationships with well known producers and I can email my spec directly to them instead of the production company. Those kinds of relationships take years to nurture and build and to be honest? That's one of the reasons I'm opting out. I simply do NOT want to be chasing those relationships anymore because most of them are there just so you can get a script read. LOL.

Having said that... The world is CHANGING FAST. I do know of some script consultants out there who do NOT charge money to get your script read but? If you end up working with them and go through all their "consulting advice" and eventually get your script up to THEIR snuff? They can easily pass it off to a producer they know. But that all depends on the concept. That all depends on the writing of the concept. They're not charging you to get read... They end up providing that service almost as a "thank you" for having stuck with them and writing what they consider to be a great script.

And "aye, there's the rub." Yes, anyone -- meaning a script consultant, coach, mentor -- whatever terms they're using these days as that often changes as well... That DANGLES the READ as a CARROT to get you to work with them? That person should always be avoided. Spec scripts are simply TOO SUBJECTIVE. Nobody knows what anyone out there is going to like. You could have the best written spec in the world but if it's derivative -- meaning that it immediately brings some other movie or even project to mind?

It's gonna be a pass...

There are also a myriad of other services out there too... Like Roadmap Writers or Stage 32 where they attempt to TEACH you how to write a screenplay or buff your current work up to snuff. Not saying there's anything wrong with that either... I know Roadmap writers has gotten a plethora of writers represented but they do NOT dangle that carrot up front. You have to put in the work and IF Joey ends up liking what you've come up with in the end? He uses his relationships to get you read.

Stage 32 has a different path... They have classes that are taught by some executive in the industry and part of that service SOMETIMES gives you the opportunity to pitch them or send them your script after the class.

Is any of this shit worth it?

Who knows. I'm old school... I've been in this business for 30 years more or less and I started and sold my first script the old-fashioned way. I queried producers and eventually, through nurturing and developing those relationships, obtained representation and sold more specs until I ended up doing script doctoring which certainly pays the bills but to be honest? I hate doing. Maybe it's my Indie roots but the idea of working on someone else's material no longer appeals to me. Whether any of you know it or not? Hollywood eats its young. LOL. Meaning that first time spec screenwriters who write something and sell it? Usually get rewritten and based on how the WGA works? If those rewriting your material manage to change it approximately 35%? They have now earned the right to the credit, "Screenplay by" thereby knocking the original writer's credit down to "Story by."

Hollywood is run on CREDIT. You're really only as good as your last credit. Most of the work OUT there is to rewrite or polish someone else's work so it stands to reason that most professional screenwriters are going to go for that 35%. This is why you've heard about so many movies having had so many screenwriters on board. Everyone wants a piece of that pie if they can get it so what SHOULD be a normal rewrite or polish ends up becoming a major change in overall story.

Happens all the time. I only mention all this because this is Indietalk not Hollywood Talk. LOL. It's a very long road to get where you want to go and from what I've seen? The road is paved with lots of wannabe writers who never get their foot in the door. Even IF you get lucky and sell a few screenplays and God knows... I've been luckier than most? Doesn't even mean your spec is ever going to get produced.

That's the hard reality. Know it before going all in. If you're good with all that? I WISH YOU ONLY THE BEST OF LUCK.
 
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Not only is it exploitation, it's illegal for anyone who can move your project forward to take money from you to read your script.
Pay for a class and learn, but do not pay for a "recommend" or so-called "script coverage". You get read by pitching, not paying.
Yes but on www.stage32.com, people pay to get opinions from people in the film business all the time. From people who can move their script forward.
 
Unfortunately OR fortunately... Depending on HOW you LOOK at it? There's definitely a GRAY AREA that keeps expanding. My guess is because of the Internet. The Internet brings lots of different paths and avenues to getting read that we simply didn't have back in the day. The first script I ever sold was based on an email query so it can be done. Over the years, I've managed to build quite a few relationships with well known producers and I can email my spec directly to them instead of the production company. Those kinds of relationships take years to nurture and build and to be honest? That's one of the reasons I'm opting out. I simply do NOT want to be chasing those relationships anymore because most of them are there just so you can get a script read. LOL.

Having said that... The world is CHANGING FAST. I do know of some script consultants out there who do NOT charge money to get your script read but? If you end up working with them and go through all their "consulting advice" and eventually get your script up to THEIR snuff? They can easily pass it off to a producer they know. But that all depends on the concept. That all depends on the writing of the concept. They're not charging you to get read... They end up providing that service almost as a "thank you" for having stuck with them and writing what they consider to be a great script.

And "aye, there's the rub." Yes, anyone -- meaning a script consultant, coach, mentor -- whatever terms they're using these days as that often changes as well... That DANGLES the READ as a CARROT to get you to work with them? That person should always be avoided. Spec scripts are simply TOO SUBJECTIVE. Nobody knows what anyone out there is going to like. You could have the best written spec in the world but if it's derivative -- meaning that it immediately brings some other movie or even project to mind?

It's gonna be a pass...

There are also a myriad of other services out there too... Like Roadmap Writers or Stage 32 where they attempt to TEACH you how to write a screenplay or buff your current work up to snuff. Not saying there's anything wrong with that either... I know Roadmap writers has gotten a plethora of writers represented but they do NOT dangle that carrot up front. You have to put in the work and IF Joey ends up liking what you've come up with in the end? He uses his relationships to get you read.

Stage 32 has a different path... They have classes that are taught by some executive in the industry and part of that service SOMETIMES gives you the opportunity to pitch them or send them your script after the class.

Is any of this shit worth it?

Who knows. I'm old school... I've been in this business for 30 years more or less and I started and sold my first script the old-fashioned way. I queried producers and eventually, through nurturing and developing those relationships, obtained representation and sold more specs until I ended up doing script doctoring which certainly pays the bills but to be honest? I hate doing. Maybe it's my Indie roots but the idea of working on someone else's material no longer appeals to me. Whether any of you know it or not? Hollywood eats its young. LOL. Meaning that first time spec screenwriters who write something and sell it? Usually get rewritten and based on how the WGA works? If those rewriting your material manage to change it approximately 35%? They have now earned the right to the credit, "Screenplay by" thereby knocking the original writer's credit down to "Story by."

Hollywood is run on CREDIT. You're really only as good as your last credit. Most of the work OUT there is to rewrite or polish someone else's work so it stands to reason that most professional screenwriters are going to go for that 35%. This is why you've heard about so many movies having had so many screenwriters on board. Everyone wants a piece of that pie if they can get it so what SHOULD be a normal rewrite or polish ends up becoming a major change in overall story.

Happens all the time. I only mention all this because this is Indietalk not Hollywood Talk. LOL. It's a very long road to get where you want to go and from what I've seen? The road is paved with lots of wannabe writers who never get their foot in the door. Even IF you get lucky and sell a few screenplays and God knows... I've been luckier than most? Doesn't even mean your spec is ever going to get produced.

That's the hard reality. Know it before going all in. If you're good with all that? I WISH YOU ONLY THE BEST OF LUCK.
Thank you, I'm really benefitting from hearing from you and the others who are answering this thread. To be honest I don't even really want to sell my scripts, I want to direct and otherwise make my movies. I felt like selling a script would be like sacrificing my first born. And it seems that scripts don't even tend to sell for too much these days. And then to pay an agent and a manager??? Plus taxes. Yeuk.
 
Thank you, I'm really benefitting from hearing from you and the others who are answering this thread. To be honest I don't even really want to sell my scripts, I want to direct and otherwise make my movies. I felt like selling a script would be like sacrificing my first born. And it seems that scripts don't even tend to sell for too much these days. And then to pay an agent and a manager??? Plus taxes. Yeuk.
Not to mention Managers that want to ATTACH themselves to your material as a Producer... LOL. They can end up making even more than you were paid for the original material AND? They get another foot INTO THE GAME which was their agenda all along.
 
Especially music. You will see many posts where musicians offer their work for free, just so they can build up their resume. I see a lot of projects where actors "pay to play," sometimes $1000 or more, in order to get a speaking part. They are also building up their resume, reel, etc. Until people are "established," it is really hard to get paid in this industry. You will also hear of many unestablished filmmakers, after spending 10s of 1000s on their movies, getting screwed by distributors. They see nothing, most of the time. It's really cut throat out there.
Wow, I never heard of actors paying to get a speaking part before!

I used to be a pop artist also and I'm totally sick of people asking me to work for free. Particularly, for example, people who want me to ghostwrite their lives and then grandly suggest that I can take a share of the profits from the vastly successful sales of their book.

Forget it.
 
I think the main point that's been made in this thread is that there are no way direct ways to get your script in front of reputable producers as an unknown. Every bit of advice you've been given I would classify as an "indirect way" to eventually get your script in front of a producer that might turn your screenplay into a film. Any of these approaches will require an investment of your time and probably some money.

However @geckopelli just posted something I think really needs addressing. Under no circumstances should you pay someone that claims to have access to a reputable producer. Anyone that asks you to pay to get your script in front of producer X or production company Y is a con. If they aren't a total con and actually have access, they will soon be severed from that access. No legitimate producer or production company will ask you to pay to read your script. Hope that's clear.

The advice you've been given is that there are many paths to EVENTUALLY get your script to producers. Any of those paths will require work on your part and very likely some $ to get you there. I myself used the term "pay to play", I will correct myself and say "invest to play". I see the money you will spend building your career as an investment. Even @Unknown Screenwriter's advice about finding a manager might cost some money, as I would suggest you get some legal advice before you sign an agreement with a manager if you elect to go that route. I personally think his advice was excellent.

The point is, you are very unlikely to get a direct shot at a producer. I suspect that's what you were looking for and I can understand it made sense to you that it should work that way. Unfortunately, it doesn't. You will need to do some work and probably spend some money on one of the indirect ways that have been recommended here.
But www.Stage32.com gets people to pay to pitch to what I would previously assumed to be successful production companies and agents. Then I think, if they're so successful why are they part of this?
 
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 as a struggling artist that really isn't attractive to me. Plus my understanding is that most of them are waste-of-time/vanity ventures.
 
I have, as usual, an unpopular opinion. I think a completely unknown screenwriter with no connections or money has no chance. Most of my reasoning has already been written above.

I think in todays market you have to produce something directly for an audience, and gain traction that way. Let's look at Johnny Knoxville. He kept having his idiot friends kick him in the balls until he was rich, and now he has starred in a half dozen films. I don't respect him, but I do understand what happened. He bypassed the system completely, until he had proven his brand as a financial winner, and only then did anyone take notice of him.

I don't know if it's possible to write a breakthrough script in this era. I think it would be a far easier path to gain wealth, and then simply tilt the pinball table. Do you think Ariana Grande auditioned to become a singer? She was pushed onto the set at Disney in a stroller by multimillionaire parents, and the singing lessons came after. The film "White Chicks" got greenlit, and 80 million in total budgeting. Do you think someone read through 3000 scripts and picked it out as the best? Some executive got drunk and watched an episode of Mad TV where Damon Wayans poured a soda over his head, and then the studio guys pulled a lever on their desk that dumped 10,000 unopened script submissions into an incinerator room and made White Chicks. They will ignore 1000 of us to make room for Sandler to make a movie about "How a guy wants to play harmonica but no one likes it until they do and he becomes famous" the cruel irony being that they sell us a movie about how the little guy has a chance, while simultaneously engineering a system where he/she doesn't.

Sorry to sound negative, but all my experience to date has been watching rich people fail upwards, and poor people succeed downwards. Make some money, and level up that luck stat first. J Lo didn't take acting classes until she got good enough to make Gigli. Someone here said the system isn't rigged, and it's not, it's super rigged, like there is no chance for anyone who isn't rich, beautiful, or connected. Your best chance is to get rich, and rig it yourself, since that is far easier than playing someone else's caste game. Setting up a fire extinguisher store in Phoenix AZ is going to take a lot less time than lobbing your scripts over their wall of nepotism. Greenlight yourself, you could be waiting a long time for them to do it for you.
 
I've been in it (the system) for three decades. In my humble opinion, it is most certainly rigged and there is a lot of luck and relationships involved. Back when I was writing my very first screenplay? Jesus... Over 30 years ago? I just thought you EVENTUALLY write a great script and start making movies. LOL.

Uh... No.

I won't get into the shit-ton of stories I could tell about THE SYSTEM but even after all the rigging, and you do manage to get someone interested in your material? That's when the real fun begins. Fun? Oh yeah... Many producers always seem to be pushing some talent your way and want you to cram their square peg into your round hole. And? Of course, this is to be EXPECTED. It AIN'T your money, is it? You gotta play ball if you want to get a movie made. So you change the material to suit the Producer only to find out that they changed their mind yet again. LOL. Round and round it goes.

I fully admit... I LOST my WAY. All I ever wanted to do was make my own films based on my own material. I knew however, in order to do that? I would need to really hunker down and study the craft. Unfortunately, that endeavor took me down a completely different path and decades later? Here I am.

Back in the day? I used to go to movies during the week and every weekend. I studied film like nobody's business. I broke them down. Studied structure. Came up with revelation after revelation about the craft of screenwriting. Broke into the business only to find out that NOW I had to turn around and become a half-ass salesman. LOL. Which? I can do and have done but I would rather not. I would rather write.

Now? And this is not me saying movies suck... But rarely do I even go to the theater anymore. I will occasionally watch something on streaming but rarely do I get blown away anymore. It could simply be ME. Maybe I've changed. Maybe I can't keep up with what the ticket-buying demographic LIKES or? Maybe I no longer want to write to the ticket-buying demographic. LOL.

Don't get me wrong... If you can get your foot in the door? There's a lot of money to be had but in the end? Money ain't all that and I know plenty of screenwriters who have done better than I who still have to work a day job for a living because after awhile, they could no longer deliver the material their agents could sell.

Having said all that? Lots of false promises. Lots of UPS and 10 times more DOWNS. Can't tell you how many times I've been a gnat's hair away from one of my specs getting produced only to have everything go to shit at the last minute. LOL. And? It does JADE you after awhile. Yet at the same time? I do, on occasion see someone who seemingly ends up having Hollywood by the balls albeit for a short time.

I used to be a professional gambler... i.e., that's what I did for a living EVERY DAY and I made a very good living from it. But? If you can't withstand the ups and downs? It's a killer.

Just like Hollywood. LOL.
 
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Vastly mis-informed by the production companies and cable networks I’ve worked for? Okay...

While it’s geared more toward unsolicited pilots, it’s out there. Granted, it’s mostly a defensive policy meant to discourage people from sending in their pilots. But I do know for a fact this policy has been out there for decades.
Baloney. Name the PC that does that. Besides, ever hear of Copyright Law?
Every failed screenwriter claims theft. But why steal? Right now, I could call for scripts with the stipulation that the Screenwriter gets credit only an dno money, and I'd have 50 submissions by tomorrow.
 
Yes but on www.stage32.com, people pay to get opinions from people in the film business all the time. From people who can move their script forward.
Stage 32 is a scam. They are Dream Stealers. Read the fine print. All they sell is notes, and NOBODY there works in development. No one there works in the Studio System, either. Their notes are worthless. Some of them are straight up con artist. There are a couple of old time TV Writers there, but that's it. And Wolf, the AFM guy, who says one thing on Stage 32 and another when he's talking to professionals at the AFM.
They are Dream Stealers-- stay away. If you ever get a real meeting and mention Stage 32, you'll kill the deal. It's a laughing stock in the industry.
They hate me because I wouldn't work for them. But if I did, I would not be able to get work in the actual industry.
You want to get read by a professional? You have to convince us to read it, not buy us.
 
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