Why do television networks and film studios require film producers and television producers to submit projects through either agents or an entertainment lawyer?
Answer by Brandon Blake, Entertainment Lawyer:
There are a number of different rationales for why entertainment companies of all kinds require film producers and television producers to submit new projects through an agent or entertainment lawyer, which range from the practical to the obstructionist.
For practical purposes, entertainment companies have a legitimate concern about liability. Copyright infringement suits are common, and once an entertainment company has received a pitch for a television series or film production it is going to be potentially more liable for a copyright infringement lawsuit. In order to reduce this risk, entertainment companies want a trusted third-party to have documented the pitch. If the film producer or television producer has a well-known agency or an entertainment lawyer submit the project, there is going to be a record of exactly what was submitted, by whom, and when. If a lawsuit ever materializes, there will be a third-party with evidence as to what happened. That is also beneficial for the film producer or television producer.
From a convenience stand point, television networks and film studios have another motive. This rationale is based on understanding what it is like to receive 10 to 20 thousand submissions per year from film producers or television producers, looking to get an entertainment project made. It is a daunting task to review so much material, so television networks and film studios want the agent or entertainment lawyer to do some of the work for them. By requiring submission through an agent or entertainment lawyer, the television network or film studio is making the producer do part of the work, having an experienced entertainment representative review the material and quite probably make suggestions and changes before the materials is submitted.
Finally, the requirement to submit through an agent or entertainment lawyer creates another hurdle to surmount before the material gets reviewed. This reduces the number of submissions as some percentage of television producers and film producers will lack the time and financial resources to obtain an entertainment representative to submit the project.
Rightly or wrongly, agent or entertainment lawyer representation has become a necessity when dealing with the large, bureaucratic media companies today.