As it happens in many job fields, the filmmaking one is filled with jargon. If you ever find yourself on a film set, you might bump into a sweaty runner and be asked: “Have you seen the juicer?.” No, the runner doesn’t want to make himself an orange juice and he isn’t looking for an alcoholic either. Knowing the jargon and how people talk will always make your life a bit easier and distinguish you from the many wannabes that want to break into this industry.
The screenwriting business makes no exceptions. If you have already completed a screenplay (a spec, in all probability), you may be asking yourself what the next steps for your baby are going to be. At that point, knowing what an “unsolicited script” is, it’s just crucial. If you browse most production company websites, you will frequently find out that they do not accept unsolicited material. So, what does that even mean?
An unsolicited submission is a screenplay submission that is not coming from a professional source, like an agent or a manager. Unfortunately, getting an agent or a manager read your script and vouch for you with a producer isn’t any easier. And ironically, most agencies don’t accept unsolicited material either. Yes, this industry is no different from the others, where you need the experience to get a job, and you need a job to get experience. In your case, you need an agent to get to a producer, and a producer to get an agent. This is simply because both production companies and agencies are already swamped with work and overloaded with spec scripts from established screenwriters and directors, and the chances that they might consider a new client or writer are meagre.
Luckily for you, there are a few ways to break this seemingly endless loop and make a company want to read your script. Let’s get down to it.
No matter how much you love lying on your sofa and working on your next magnum opus, you should never forget that the Film and TV industries are worlds where knowing the right connection might change your life in a blink. No wonder Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas became pals back in their youth, sharing their artistic passions and helping each other out in a complex industry. Get yourself out there and go to festivals, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and so on. The world abounds with talented, committed people that can teach you something about their profession, and they might see something spark in your writing. One day, one of these people might be a producer or an agent interested in reading your magnum opus.
#2 Screenplay Competitions
Screenplays contests are seemingly everywhere now, more than ever. Some are great, others not so much, and it can indeed be challenging to distinguish them. Not so long ago, screenplay competitions used to be more of a LA thing, but things are changing now. New contests have been founded in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Producing is shifting to remote working, meaning that it does not matter where you live (and where you get recognition). At the same time, many companies are more eager to find original international content that can bring some freshness on the market. If you find a respectable competition and place at the top, that can only be fantastic news for you. If you don’t have somebody vouching for, an award can always show that you have something interesting in your portfolio, and a producer or an agent might be more willing to give you a shot.
#3 Pitching, pitching, pitching!
What’s been said about screenplay competitions, it’s not so different for pitch services and events — more and more every year. But what’s so great about pitches that a screenplay competition can’t give you? While contests generally overflow with submissions (up to thousands), making it extremely difficult to get to the top, pitching gives you the chance to talk directly to producers, sometimes even in a one-to-one meeting. If you have got a clear concept and a bulletproof screenplay, pitches are unique experiences that can help you make new fruitful connections and get feedback on your project from an expert.
Not to mention that pitching is always a great practice. Once you break into the industry, being able to give a hooking, concise presentation of your project is a skill that will always come in handy. Pitches can be expensive and, again, it might be tough to find a valid platform or event.
At unsolicitedscripts.com, our Pitch Network relies on a selected, trusted pool of Feature, Short Film & TV producers who are actively searching for new projects. And you don’t need to compete with other applicants: each submission is evaluated only on its own merit. Each script is read by three different readers – if they all think your script is solid enough we match you with a producer. Do you want to know more? Check here.