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05/25/2001 - How to Get An Agent

How to Produce Movies for Television

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

-- Elbert Hubbard

How to Get An Agent - Or, How To Live and Die in LA...(or N.Y.C) - -
Taster's Choice...

Want to land an agent? It's all about risks and taking chances. The difference between being a somebody and a being a wannabe is all in the presentation.

Moving to L.A. or N.Y.C.? Getting started? No credits?

Ways to Hook Interest

Assuming that you have writing talent but only you know that, how do you get someone interested in reading your scripts? Send query letters. Sometimes fate and timing can make a difference. For example, your script may fall into the hands of an assistant who is being groomed to be an agent. If that person likes your work, he/she will remember you and when they're promoted they may very well bring you on board as a new client. It's happened before and it will certainly happen again. The trick is to move forward with a positive mental attitude. It can and will make a difference.

First Time Directors and Writer-Directors

Film Festivals are a good place to showcase your work. Agents frequent the festivals, ever watchful for new talent. It's easier to screen a 10-minute short than it is to read a 120 page script. If your short is based on a 120-page script, you'll stand a better chance of an agent reading your script.

Writing Spec Scripts

Writing one or two strong spec TV scripts as a writing sample which are geared toward a hit series is another way to go. Watch the show and find out the names of
the agents who are representing the writers for a hit series. The best way to do this is
to scan the credits of the show and then call the WGA, tell them the names of the writers and ask for the names of the agents who represent them.

The next step is to send query letters to those agents and if they're interested they'll ask you for sample scripts. If they like your work and they're open to meeting with you, there is every good chance that you'll be represented by someone who works for a mid-level agency.

Don't expect to open the door right away to any of the major agencies. Sometimes it's better to be represented by mid-level agencies because you'll receive more personal attention. It's easy to get lost in the executive shuffle at the major agencies. Please keep in mind that size does matter. Smaller is often better.

As your career moves into gear, you'll find that the major agencies will start knocking on your door. The big fish always swallow the little fish. It's the law of nature and the jungle. So, if you want prestige, it may happen when you least expect it. But please keep in mind that being represented by "bigger" isn't always "better."

Screenwriting Contests

There are screenwriting contests and there are screenwriting contests. Winning the more important contests against stiff competition is definitely a leg up and a good way to secure a respected agent. When you're a winner, the phone will start ringing off the hook.

Script Consultants

Sometimes it pays to hire an experienced script consultant to read and critique your work. And here's the bonus...if they like your work, they'll recommend an agent and arrange for the agent to read your script.

Personal Managers

We've written about the difference between personal managers and agents before. Some personal managers also produce. As a result, they know their way around the track and have maintained excellent relationships with buyers and suppliers. The right manager can open doors for you that would ordinarily be closed. Since managers are not allowed by law to secure work for you, they work in conjunction with licensed talent and literary agents and/or entertainment attorneys. The point is that a responsible manager will take more time to guide your career and help you to develop your talent and grow. Agents simply don't have the time to nurture most clients. They're too busy
making huge deals for their established name clients.

Development People

Make friends with story editors and up and coming development executives. They're the same people you'll meet again and again as they climb the corporate ladder to become important players. Some of them will remember their humble beginnings and they may just remember you too...if you make a good impression.

Entertainment Attorneys

Young entertainment attorneys just out of law school often befriend young agents. Get to know them. Network. You may find that you have much in common.


Meeting new producers is another good way to get started. Hungry producers are more apt to take time to read your work.

Writing Partners

Some writers enjoy the collaborative process. It's less lonely and you get to shout at each other. It helps to get rid of the angst and those demons which are inside all of us.
So, if you're open to working with someone else, it may just be what the script doctor ordered.

The trick is never to give up. You are you own track record.

"The men (and women) who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."

-- Lloyd Jones


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