Saturday, June 28, 2014

Overcoming the "Unsolicited Submissions" Barrier

First of all, don't worry, everyone starting out promoting a script or film for the first time receives the "Unsolicited Submissions" rejection letter.

Why the Policy Exists

What is typically stated: Your script or film may include elements that are also in other projects.  You may feel that those elements are proprietary to your story, consequently you may conclude that the other producers stole your idea.  More than likely they didn't, and the company you contacted does not want to defend itself against your claim.

Also, there may be elements to your project that don't qualify you to even offer it to another entity yet, even for consideration.  So the company you are contacting doesn't want to waste time considering your project, if there is a possibility that your project isn't legally ready.  So even if they like your project, they're not going to get involved with you unless they are sure you are legally ready to present it.

Your Essential First Step

You must hire a qualified entertainment attorney to evaluate your project, and clear it for offering in the marketplace.

You must do your homework, learn how the system works, then get good at working within the system.

Acquaint yourself with deliverables.

Who Should You Contact

Distributors are notorious for not dealing with independent producers directly, sales agents are generally more receptive to working directly with producers.

Research your contacts in advance, many specialize in specific genres.

Even though you probably feel that your project is unique, and in some ways it is, once you enter the marketplace, be prepared to embrace the concept of comperables.

The funniest comperable I ever heard was: "Under Siege is Diehard on a ship."

Everyone who will consider your project will want some understanding of why you feel your project will succeed commercially, based on some earlier success.  

How You Should Contact Them

Remember, our discussion is on "Unsolicited Submissions," the keyword being "Unsolicited."  

Now that you understand the basics of qualified intellectual property (your film is cleared for presentation by an entertainment attorney), and the concept of comperables, you may be ready to begin making your contacts.

You introduce yourself, you describe your project in basic, non-confidential terms: genre / audience / comperables.  You offer to provide more information.

Once an acquisition executive asks you for your materials, likely a screener DVD, you review the request with your attorney, and if your attorney agrees, you make the submission.

Don't worry, you may still receive the "Unsolicited Submission" rejection letters.  This is a business where there are absolutely no guarantees, even for the largest, most experienced companies.

And it may be a while before you hear back, if ever.  Be patient, not pesky.

The Submission Waiver

Many companies require a signed Submission Waiver accompanying your materials.  They may offer you their Submission Waiver.  Now think that through for a minute, if they are willing to offer you the use of their Submission Waiver, who do you think it will benefit, you or them?  

My attorney has prepared a Submission Waiver for my clients which benefits my clients.  Your own attorney should also provide you with a Submission Waiver that benefits you.


The independent film business is highly competitive at every stage.  You need to constantly keep your eyes open for ways to strengthen your competitive advantages.

Get out there, learn everything you can, so you can proceed with confidence.

I can help you, click here to hearn how!

Best of Luck to You!

Steve Thompson

Thompson Communications
Skype: stephen.thompson580

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Here's to a Brighter Tomorrow!

Publicity stimulates activity. Whether the task is building audience anticipation, or bringing your project to the attention of buyers, publicity makes things happen.

And when we make things happen, today becomes better than yesterday, and tomorrow becomes even better than today.

I'm serious about making things happen. Yesterday someone thanked me for helping them sell out a community screening that took place on Sunday. He said " . . . couldn't have done it without you, my friend. . . Thanks so much for all your effort . . . I mean, a packed house! You do your job, and you do it well . . . "

Today, the producer / director added: ". . . thanks for working so hard on this project for me. You went above and beyond my expectations, you are a class act, and I can't wait to make another film, just so you can work on it!!"

In May I did some pre-Cannes work for a group that got them some good trade media coverage, and they ended up selling the film we promoted into a dozen foreign territories.

I'm not claiming that any of us accomplish these things alone. It takes a good story, cast, director, producer and countless other people who know what they're doing to make a project work.

But good publicity can be the spark that brings everything together, and moves everything forward.

I want to work with you to help you create a better future for yourself, your company, and even your family! 

I know it's possible, I've seen it happen.

To find out how we can make it happen, all you have to do is get back to me, and we'll pick up from there!

As always, thanks for your consideration!

Steve Thompson
Thompson Communications

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Good Advice from an Academy Award Winner

I never quite got used to the idea that I could pick up the phone and call Academy Award Winner Cliff Robertson and ask him questions about the film business.

In Cliff's Water Mill, NY Home, 2005

Nevertheless, for ten years he was always available to me, and never hesitated to answer my questions, and offer me his assistance.

Naturally I often wondered what it took to win an Academy Award.  Since I was fortunate enough to have arranged many interviews for him, and I was present for quite a few of those interviews, I heard him answer many questions regarding his Academy Award win.

Cliff Robertson as Charly Gordon with Claire Bloom

One constant theme I recall is that from the time he acquired the film rights to the original book Flowers for Algernon*, through the entire filmmaking process, he knew he was the best actor to portray Charly Gordon.  He also knew that everyone he worked with on the project were the best in the industry.

So I learned first hand that good, even magical things happen once we finally decide to become the very best at what we do.

Although I tell everyone I work with that I have no magical powers, I just work hard, smart, and keep an open mind, to produce the best results for my clients, my goal is to be the very best I can be in my work.  So maybe I do have some magical powers afterall!

Are you looking for publicity for your projects?  Then just get back to me, tell me what you have in mind, and let's work some magic!

Here's to your upcoming Academy Award!

Steve Thompson

Thompson Communications

* I just learned that author Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon, passed away on Sunday.