First of all, do not fall into the trap of just sending your script out to any and every producer. Anyone can say they are a producer, you should always do your research on him/her first!
The only way I have found to get a producer to read your script is to call the production company and ask if they are looking for new scripts. If you have already have had a film produced, be it short or full length, then you will know what a producer will expect. A producer already has a hundred things on his/her plate, so make sure that your script is the best it can be before you slide it into that envelope.
Another avenue to explore is to have a literary agent. There are many producers who will not look at a script unless it has the backing of an agent. This does not mean you should go an make up your own pretend agent. That would be one way of getting yourself ostracized! A good agent can get your script out of the slush pile and right onto the producer's desk.
Attending film festivals is also a way to hook up with producers. If you see a film you like and the producer is there, be respectful and approach him/her with caution. Always have your business card handy and, if you get a chance to pitch your script, make sure it is a well rehearsed pitch. Even the smaller film festivals are worth attending as you never know when you will run into a small-time producer poised to hit the big time. If the producer likes your pitch and wants you to send the script in, make sure you state in your cover letter where you met and when. This will help jog their memory. It is very rare to go straight to the top producer unless you know someone who knows someone. Or if you have a well known actor for a best mate.
It can take up to four-six months for you to hear back from a producer. Be patient. It is difficult to wait for a response, but during this time you should be working on your next script. If another producer wants to read your script at the same time, you should inform him/her that 'so and so' is also having a read of it. Perhaps drop a line to that original producer letting them know that a copy of your script has also been requested by another producer. Some say you should not submit your script to various companies at the same time, which is difficult because that would cut down your chances to be produced.
Before submitting to another producer I have always called my 'first' one to ask if this is permissible. If they say no, then that is fine, but it is the communication that matters. No producer wants to be kept in the dark. Sometimes the two producers might even know each other and strike up a conversation about this 'great' script they received and then come to find out it is the exact same script!
Make sure that your script is properly formatted, no frilly ribbons, or colored paper. It is exciting to finish a script and in your giddiness you want to send it out as soon as possible. But do not forget that the film industry is a serious business. You as a writer are your own business and therefore you must always double and triple check your work before you send it out. The producer is all about making money and that means you have got to be serious about your ideas and show your commitment to your cause. Of course, it is an imaginative business too.
We have all witnessed the effects of a well written story; however, learn to contain your excitement when speaking to a producer. I do not mean be morose or so aloof that folks will turn their back on you. But if you are fawning over and spitting on him/her because you just can not contain yourself during this golden opportunity, then you will end up being dismissed. Producers can do this in the blink of an eye because they have had to learn how to read people, and how to know when someone is talking out of their backside.
Some things to remember when face to face with a producer:
- Know your story better than you know yourself.
- Smile. Comment on the film or films they have just made that you liked.
- Ask if he/she is looking for new scripts. Stay calm if they are.
- Pitch your script concisely and eloquently.
- Have your business card ready.
- Make sure your script is the best it can be.
- Be passionate and committed to your talent and what you have to offer.
- And keep going. Do not give up after the first rejection, you will get better as you go along. You will also learn a lot more about the business with each new encounter.
Best of luck!