I got this question recently:
“Every time I contact a producer, they tell me to have an agent send them my material. Is this really true? Do I have to find an agent first?”
In many cases companies will not look at material except through an agent that they have a relationship with. But in many cases they will. I’ve also found that if a company is not interested in your material telling the writer to submit through an agent it is a polite way of saying that they’re not interested in your specific idea.
So here’s what I recommend.
Go back and look at your pitch. If you’re doing it over the phone try and take a step back and improve how you pitch your material. If you’re pitching through a query letter re-write the query letter. In my experience you should be able to get 1% – 5% of production companies to read your work. So if you make 1000 phone calls or send out 1000 letters you should be able find 10 – 50 companies who will read your work, assuming your pitch is good. With a bad pitch you won’t get any positive response so make sure your pitch is as professional, interesting, and unique as it can be. Make 100 phone calls or 100 query letters and if you don’t get at least 1 or 2 positive responses revise your pitch again and try another 100. Rinse and repeat.
This post goes through all the basic steps to finding producers and pitching to them: How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell).
Read my post about getting an agent and take action. In that post I explain how to get an agent – it’s basically the same thing as pitching to production companies, you need to pitch your story idea to them either over the phone, email, fax, or query letter. Start pitching and keep revising your pitch until you get a few people who request your screenplay.
How do you get an agent for your screenplay? (And why you don’t need one!)
These posts cover some of the same ground:
Submitting your script through an agent or manager
Submitting to companies that don’t take unsolicited material
No one is going to make it happen for you except you. There is really no short cut except to do the work.