In the comments section of the 'Are You Ready?' post last week, Bob the Vegan asked about how to get your scripts read, and is it possible to pitch with just a premise?
First, getting your script read. In the UK, you've got a few options.
British Film Institute
The dust has more or less settled since the UK Film Council folded into the BFI, and the new staff and strategy has been laid down. Check out their website for the full rundown.
Always looking for new writers, always open to submissions. However, check out their new submission guidelines. Whatever you do, don't complain, especially if they reject you. Be gracious and appreciative that they're willing to read your work. Keep trying.
Enter the good ones. It can cost a bit but usually not that much. Kaos British Screenwriting Competition and the Red Planet Prize (RPP) are two high profile ones that spring to mind. Competitions can be a bit of a lottery but some offer feedback so you get some vale for your money. Pick and choose the ones you think would be of genuine benefit to you.
Get an Agent
This part of the process is the easiest. Hold on, that didn't sound right. Oh yes, this part of the process is the hardest. There, that's better. Or worse. Still, agents take on new writers all the time. You just have to be good. Simples.
The Unsolicited Approach
The Writers & Artists' Yearbook lists a huge amount of production companies and usually mentions if they accept unsolicited material or not. But I'm going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready? EVERYBODY accepts unsolicited material, even if they say they don't. The trick is to make contact with the assistant, exec, co-ordinator, whoever, either via email or the phone (preferably phone) and convince them you're a lovely normal person who has a promising script to read. Show a bit of charm and hustle, and no door will be closed to you.
Attending film festivals, talks, seminars, etc. Stalking producers and execs at the bar. Getting to know fellow writers. Finding out about script editors. Putting your name out there. This makes you more agreeable and identifiable when you do the unsolicited approach, above.
A referral or recommendation to an agent or a producer about you and your work is a great boost. Recently, I referred Kevin Lehane to an exec I knew (because his scripts were good and he had worked so hard on my short film for free), and next minute, Kevin's in the trades, nabbing an agent and making sales. I hate him. I mean, isn't it great when the system works?
Now, is it possible to pitch with just a premise?
Ideally, yes. In practice, not so much. Producers/execs want to be hooked by your script with the premise alone. Most scripts don't have a concept that sounds instantly appealing. If you're trying to get money to write a script from just a pitch or one-pager, this is also generally a good thing. However, you need a spec script to back up the fact you have the talent to write your hot idea into a full screenplay. And anyway, most producers wouldn't commission a script from a pitch or one-pager. They'd get you to write an outline/treatment first, usually for peanuts. Literally. Type, monkey boy, type!
Seeing as you're here, why not check out Liquid Lunch, my 6x2min comedy web series. The 12-minute omnibus video is below!