Though there are probably many ways to sell your documentary to HBO, we will concentrate on the way that will give you the best odd of accomplishing your goal. HBO has always been considered the cream of the crop when it comes to having your documentary seen by the world in prime time. Because HBO is viewed as being protective of artist and their work, the amount of submissions they receive is astronomical. With so many submissions, independent sales of documentaries to HBO are rare. All that being said, here is the best way to give yourself a chance:
- This might seem obvious, but make sure your documentary is not only of quality but original. Because the Executives at HBO have been doing their jobs for years, not only do they know the type of documentary they are looking for, but also if it is similar to anything they have done in the past.
- Make sure that all legal bases have been covered. Has everyone who appears in your documentary signed waivers? Is all music cleared or original? These factors can shut the door on you before you can get started.
- Do you have legal representation? HBO will not look at any project unless they can make sure they are covered legally.
- Once you have covered the first three bases, you have to get your documentary into film festivals. NOT LOCAL ONES, but well established and prestigious ones such as Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. These are some of the places that HBO shops for their documentaries.
- Even after you have entered, been accepted and even won some of these film festivals you might need either a publicist or film/TV agent to represent you and help you with marketing. Your agent will also be the one who actually contacts HBO, if they haven't contacted you already.
- Open a website about your documentary to get the word out. With the help of a great website and film festival accolades you might be able to distribute your documentary independently even if you aren't able to sell it to HBO.
As stated above, there might be other ways to get in at HBO with your documentary, but this method is tried and true.