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!