How to Produce Movies for Television
"Heaven never helps the men who will not act."
Stars and Their Production Companies
Writers, directors, and producers who are starting out are usually not represented by agents or managers. They often ask us how they can bring their new projects to stars who have their own production companies.
An excellent source is The Hollywood Creative Directory (HCD). The HCD lists all the production companies in alphabetical order with a partial list of credits and the areas that they are involved in which may include any of the following: television, motion pictures, animation, documentaries, theater, features direct to video, commercials, music videos, and interactive media.
The HCD also lists in alphabetical order the names of all the principals and development executives at the various production companies. Many of the principals at the production companies are motion picture and television stars. Their production companies are usually located at the studio lots. Some of the stars have deals with the motion picture and television side for feature films, television movies, and series. Some are only exclusive for feature film projects. Others for television movies and series.
Why Stars Form Production Companies
Many stars have learned the hard way that they can't always rely upon their agents and personal managers to find them new projects. Stars also know that they are often competing with their fellow actors for plum roles. There are only a handful of male and female stars who get "first look" at scripts that are greenlit for production.. Stars understand the old axiom: "When you're hot, you're hot and when you're not it's best to take action and find new projects."
Since stars are usually too busy paying attention to their careers, they hire experienced development directors to help run their production companies. The development executives and their staff beat the bushes to seek, acquire, and develop new material.
Sometimes they work in conjunction with motion picture studios and television networks where the stars have exclusive or "first look" deals. Very often, the development executives contact subsidiary rights directors and editors at publishing houses to seek out nonfiction and fiction books that are suitable for development.
Submitting Projects to Stars and Their Production Companies
Unless you're represented by a recognized agent or personal manager, it will be necessary for you to send a query letter to the production company describing your project with a Log Line and brief synopsis. Also be sure to let the company executive know that pending his/her interest in reading your project that you'll send a standard industry release form along with your script or manuscript submission.
Who's Hot and Who's Not
It's always a good idea to read the trades. If you're interested in submitting feature film scripts to stars, follow the activities of the stars who are box office. They're the ones with active studio deals who are more bankable than others. Read their interviews and pay attention to their hobbies and interests. You may already have a screenplay completed that will be a challenge to a star because they're personally interested in the subject. Passion rules. When a star is passionate about a script, they'll do everything in their power to make the project happen.
Stars of hit television series often are owed one or more Movies of The Week by their respective broadcast or cable networks. As a result, a number of series stars have formed their own production companies for the sole purpose of starring in and producing television movies and in some instances series for television. Keep an eye on the series stars because they're often looking for suitable Movie of The Week scripts or books that can be adapted as television movies or series.
Sophocles was right: "Heaven never helps the men who will not act." Take action. You are the prime mover. Having an agent or personal manager in your corner can be very helpful to your cause but in the end, you have to answer to yourself. Reach out and connect with the people who are open and receptive to new ideas.
"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep,
for every dream precedes the goal."
-- Ralph Vaull Starr