I’m developing a script with a writer/director who has already finished his first feature. The film we are writing now aligns directly with the kind of films that Lion’s Gate has been producing in their new genre devision. Fortunately I have a contact with one of their staff producers (which explains why I’m attached).
My question is this: The writer has no agent or manager and I’m wondering if that will be a hindrance when approaching the studio. We’re very confident in the story, but I was wondering if there is some sort of protocol to follow when approaching a studio, even if the contact is a friend of mine. We’re not sure if we should attempt to pitch before submitting the script or if it’s necessary to get third party representation before doing so.
You’re fine. Don’t let the lack of an agent and/or manager slow down your process at this point. Use your contact, get your meeting, and pitch the project. Particularly at a genre division, they’re used to working with unsigned writers. Embrace your outsider status.
If they want to buy your project, you’ll need to get an entertainment lawyer involved to help figure out the contracts. The writer/director might already have one, but if not, you’ll be able to find one within a few days — particularly in New York or Los Angeles.
Where do you find an entertainment lawyer? Well, you could start by asking the company. If they want your project, they’re likely to want the deal done right. They’ll understand that it’s in their best interest to see that you have a good lawyer. But of course, don’t stop there. Make sure you meet with several attornies at different companies. You want someone you feel you can trust.