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While others open their doors for material, we close ours.

A major regional theater recently announced that they were no longer accepting open submissions from playwrights.  The theater was aboveboard honest about their new policy, stating that it was not only too expensive to process all those scripts, never mind have them read . . . but that it was also just not working.  Open submissions weren’t leading to productions . . . so why not put the time, energy and dollars behind the playwrights the theater had already decided to support.

Their arguments made total sense.

Then, a friend of mine from the TV world told me about the new Amazon Studios.  Haven’t heard about it?  Click here.

First thing you’ll notice is the giant welcome mat Amazon rolls out for anyone out there:  “Welcome Series Writers and Creators!”

See, Amazon is on the Netflix track . . . they’re looking to create and produce original programming for Amazon Instant Video (and with the data they are sitting on, expect a hit sooner rather than later).  But rather than waiting for agents to submit their clients, or rather than commission the A-listers in Hollywood to create something for them, Amazon is crowdsourcing their content. . . and opening their doors wide for anyone . . . even you . . . to submit their idea for a show.

Interesting contrast between the two worlds, isn’t it?

I realize it’s challenging in today’s market to sift through script submissions.  It’s like panning for gold.  And there’s a lot of mud before there’s a nugget.  And yes, the TV/Film economic model gives them a greater incentive to have policies like Amazon’s.

But I believe as an industry, we have to find a way to do it.

We accept open submissions at my office.  We don’t have the budget for a full time person to read the hundreds of scripts that come in.  That’s why we developed our script coverage service . . . to give people a quick way to get their scripts read, and to generate some income to pay a part time person (better than nothing!).  That’s also why we have our 10 Minute Play Contest and some of the other initiatives we have for new writers.  We have script reading parties where everyone in the office grabs a script.  We do whatever we can to try and get to them.  It doesn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure.  And we can’t respond to them all.  But we try.

If you’re in a position to accept submissions, I suggest you open ‘em up.  Oh, and don’t let the lawyers tell you that you can’t.  Your lawyers work for you.  Tell them you want to do something and tell them to figure out how to do it.

Because if we continue to close our doors, you know what happens to the new, exciting, untapped, and undiscovered talent out there?

They run to Hollywood Amazon.

 

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