When Do You Submit A Project To A Financier?

I have been producing movies for about twenty-five years. And it still is a thrill when an executive asks me to submit a project. But does a simple request mean you should send the project you have slaved over on in to them?

I have never had a company actually finance a project that is not either already somewhat packaged with cast or has pre-sales done on it. I have to remind myself over and over. Good acquisitions execs craft all sorts of arguments of why I should submit my projects early -- and sometimes I fall for it. I think when they succeed in suckering me in they too honestly believe that they can get it made without already being fully realized (short of execution); but they soon learn they can't. Which is not to say that they can't get it set up, but that is often a far cry from getting it made.

Acquistions executives job is to bring projects in, period. So they ask. And often we comply. If the sign of insanity is to repeat the same action over and over, expecting the result to change, are we insane to keep doing this practice?

It would be wonderful if the corporately backed entities truly were able to climb aboard projects in the midst of becoming and enhance them with their status, capital, and expertise. I guess they do sometimes, provided the project is generated by one of the top ten or twenty directors who have produced a hit of recent times. But where does this leave the rest of us?

I understand the why though: we make movies because we are the type of people who believe magic can happen. Yet, as much as I believe we can engineer the likelihood of serendipity happening, I don't think we can summon it. I might test the waters along the way occasionally, sharing a taste with a well-chosen partner who has earned the offering somehow, but I am going to keep on trying to keep my cards close to my vest, until I know my hand can win. I do count the cards after all.