I got this question recently:
“I have found through my years of sales that selling over the phone is one of my greatest attributes. I love it. I find myself getting uncontrollably excited over the chase of cold calling production companies! I turn it into a game just to see how many people I can get to go against their own policy of ‘no unsolicited submissions’ by offering a high concept comedy. Which I have completed of course. I have had some success in getting them to allow me to send a query, but my question is this. I keep getting the snub from some decent companies regarding having an agent or a manager even after I can get them to talk to me for a few minutes. One person I called said it was a great idea, but if not from a manager or an agent he can’t take a look at it. Can I just hire my friend to be my manager and work that angle? With that in mind if it helps me get my script read, what are your recommendations?”
You basically “get it.” I’m hesitant to recommend that you use your friend as your “manager” since that’s not the sort of “un-official” advice I usually like to put into writing and send to someone I don’t know. But suffice it to say that’s something I’ve thought of doing myself.
However… you still have a couple of options.
#1 Start out by cold calling agents and managers first and see if you can land one. If your script is good you will. Once you get an agent or manager it doesn’t mean you can then stop cold calling production companies, but at least when you do you can say you have an agent or manager and they can submit on your behalf when you get a request. Check out my post: How do you get an agent for your screenplay? (And why you don’t need one!)
#2 Get a good entertainment attorney. This will cost a few bucks but just do a Google search to find one. Call them, talk to them, ask them how much they would charge to submit a script and if that’s a service they do for other clients. In nearly all cases a production company will accept a submission from a lawyer just as easily as they would an agent or manager. In addition you’ll have someone ready to negotiate on your behalf if you do get some interest in your script.
One thing you’ve already noticed is that in many cases production companies say “no unsolicited material” but will in some cases read your stuff. In my opinion every production company will read material if they think it’s compelling enough so if your pitch peaks their interest they will read it. Maybe they’ll make you sign a release form maybe not. The “no unsolicited material” policy simply exists to try and curb the huge number of unsolicited scripts they get.
With that said, if someone tells you they like your pitch but that you must submit through an agent or manager to me that’s a polite way of telling you they don’t really like your pitch. Certainly if you suggest submitting through an entertainment lawyer at that point and they still say “no” it means that they’re not really that interested in your script.
With your salesmanship and willingness to cold call I firmly believe you will eventually option and sell some scripts if they are well written so make sure that they are.