How To Get A Screenwriting Agent
There are few connections more particular and nuanced than the writer-agent relationship. When is the correct time to seek a screenwriting agent, what will they handle for you, and which is the proper organization to go with? This post will tell you how to get a screenwriting agent.
Many screenwriters hope they will be discovered working with an agent. Meanwhile, others are used to forging their own partnerships and relying on their agents to write and administer the contracts. The reality is that a good agent can unlock doors for you and get you into the right rooms. They can negotiate on your behalf, but when that call arrives, you still need to do a hell of a lot of work to be ready.
Who To Contact
This is as personal as any choice that you would ever make. Many screenwriters tend to be represented with a big organization of talent and media managers. Others greatly prefer a smaller company’s boutique service that has more time to devote to their select client list. Sometimes they’ll be available for chats, updates, or even job edits. Both have advantages, so it’s time to begin to do your research.
In terms of chemistry, once you have a meeting, it is reasonably important to get along with your screenwriting agent. You need to be able to trust them. You still have to picture trusting them out there in the world to serve your interests. Take a moment to think about the kind of writer you are, but also the kind of person you are. You should be optimistic, experienced, happy to enter a room, shake hands and begin selling your scripts. If you’re these things, you will be able to get meetings from an agent who complements you, leave you to it and handle the details.
If you’re great in front of a keyboard, but not so confident with networking, would you be complemented and portrayed by an agent as a powerful personality or could they overpower you a little? Be truthful about yourself, be mindful of this matchmaking aspect of the equation and try and enjoy it. This could result in a lifetime relationship.
If one screenwriting agent is inquisitive about your work, then there’ll be others. Be calm, reflexive and take time to think and hash out your decision along with your Screenwriter Coach or writer friends. Don’t comply with anything at the first meeting, instead try and arrange further meetings with other agents, see who’s out there and find the proper fit. Yes, that means play the field.
What To Not Do
The biggest ‘what to not do’ seems obvious, but don’t approach agents who just don’t rep what you’re selling. If you wish to figure in TV, then you ought to contact TV agents, not film agents (or someone who does both). Think seriously about who you actually want to figure with and aim high. Do exhaustive research of which agents rep those writers you absolutely love. Look at junior agents who are into the type of thing you write, as they’ll be more likely to read your script. But be prepared for variety of rejection emails before you get a gathering – our article The Rejection Collection might help here.
Finally, your contacts among writers are going to be really helpful here. Hopefully you have got a broad cohort of writer friends that you’ve met at festivals and functions, who are of an identical level and some who are perhaps doing well and getting commissions. Always ask writer friends about their screenwriting agent – what they like, what they don’t like. And, if someone ever offers to recommend you to an agent, this can be the golden ticket. Make you’ve got a shiny, polished script ready for this occasion.
When To Contact
Which brings us to the ‘when’. If your timing is right, you’ll be more likely to receive a positive response. If you have a coach or a mentor, they’ll really be able to help with the when of things; when is your brilliant spec polished, but not overworked?
If you’ve already written a pair of shorts and they show you in a decent light, then a screenwriting agent is more likely to look at it than read a feature script. A reel may be a good thing to possess. If you’ve already made a firm agreement towards a collaboration and having something made, this again will help you. If you’ve got what you think to be a winning script, back it up by having a second great script in your arsenal to send. Once you get your ducks in a row, you might get some interest.
If something you’ve written award winning scripts, you’re incrementally more likely to strike gold, based on how highly the award is regarded. A really brilliant script will get you a screenwriting agent, but it won’t even be read by the sort of agent you actually want until you’re further along in your career. Less established agents might take you on after gaining a interest at one of the festivals, but unless you actually need an agent at that time, don’t think they’re going to simply accept your first offer.
There are good agents, and there are agents with good clients. There are some screenwriting agents who tackle clients who aren’t yet ready and so push them really hard, which doesn’t result in good feelings towards that agent likewise you as their client. As always, do your research, attempt to make the choice together with your business head on instead of from the joy of being repped. If the time isn’t quite right yet, that’s okay. Polish your portfolio for an additional month or two, give yourself a deadline and take a look at again when you’re ready. If you’re putting this off because you’re terrified of rejection, it’s time to feel the fear.
What To Contact Them With
Now you actually need to do your research. Agents are perpetually swamped with material. Reading scripts for a living means they’re adept at reading, but also specialists at filtering out which scripts they need to read. Keep your letter brief. Mention any connection you’ve got to the agent; a mutual contact or a time you’ve met them at an event. This is the reason why visiting those events is so important. Get a friend, coach, or mentor to read it over.
Speaking of which, you should even have a friend, coach, or mentor facilitate you along with your CV. Don’t be afraid! Writing a CV may be slightly intimidating when you haven’t yet notched up a stack of credits. Concisely, if you don’t have produced credits, then list your portfolio (in order of; most-developed / scripts available to read right away to least developed), a quick run down of other (non-script) writing experiences, script courses and, if you’ve got any, relevant industry experience (such as script editing).
Anything else, that demonstrates your great time keeping or team working skills is, unfortunately, irrelevant here. Include it if you want, but keep it very, very brief. If you examine your CV and you’re lacking credits, tantalizing awards, a guided portfolio that actually speaks to your career direction. Be honest. Don’t try to make your CV misrepresent you.
As far as your script goes, any screenwriting agent are ready to tell you that the quality of entry level scripts has risen phenomenally over the previous couple of years. Writers are more sophisticated and are really making the most of coaching and competitions and internet resources. Not only does your script have to be brilliant, but it must be formatted and spelled correctly. Don’t worry if this is often not your forte, but do find someone to assist you with this. Most importantly, you absolutely must follow the principles of every specific agent and their agency.
The agency will tell you the way they require the file formatted and labeled, whether or not they will read treatments, one pagers, ten pages or full scripts. They will specify genre, style or what they’re currently trying to find or now not reading. They will be absolutely specific and unless they contact you and ask you to send everything you’ve got (which is rare), only send precisely what they ask for.
Any deviation from which will not be seen as witty or extra or clever, but disrespectful of their very precious time. So don’t waste all of the valuable time you’ve spent on your very precious projects, by sending them in a very way they’ll be poorly received. Agents are people too. It’s important to remember that, whether or not your script is objectively brilliant, an agent may not prefer it or won’t want it immediately. When you ask someone to read your work, you’re actually asking an enormous favor, so be polite and respectful.
Your faith in your work is very important, but they’re taking a leap of faith. If they attempt to sign you, they’re taking the risk, not you, so have an appreciation of this. However, you may have value. You’ve dedicated time and energy to your work, so your work has value. If you’re at the point of getting interest and perhaps getting work, you’re on the brink and an honest investment for your agent, so have faith in your worth too. Balance is everything.
Make Query Phone Calls
It used to be common to send out queries, then emails. Finding an agent’s assistant’s email address is straightforward and there’s little stress clicking the send button. But it’s just as easy to seek out that assistant’s office number, too. Only a few people make phone calls anymore so this can be an opportunity for you to stick out. You won’t be ready to get the assistant on the phone your first try so try some times (1:00 PM to 2:00 PM PST is that the industry standard lunch break, so avoid calling then).
If you are going to get them on the phone or are forced to depart a message, the key is expressing your passion for your project while sounding like a sane adult. Make an argument on why the story in your screenplay is the most gripping, relevant or funniest story of the year and you’ll get some interest. If you’re leaving a message, leave your signal and your email address, as they’re more likely to email you back.
Attend Screenwriting Conferences And Summits
Some of the best conferences like Story Expo (held in the big apple and LA six months apart), Toronto Screenwriting Conference and ScreenCraft Writers Summit, invite successful screenwriters, literary agents and managers to administer talks and be available to answer questions. These events are set during a far more casual environment than most industry events, therefore the odds of walking up and introducing yourself to a literary manager at one of these events are in your favor.
What is stunt marketing? It’s promoting your script in an exceedingly clever way that hasn’t been done before. Billy Domineau wrote a Seinfeld spec called “Twin Towers” about 9/11 that went viral and landed him employment on Family Guy. Henry C. King purchased billboards near Sony in Culver City and in Studio City near Universal Studios directing anyone interested find his script on blcklst.com. These methods are unconventional so do your research before spending any money.
Following this advice is sure to help you navigate how to get a screenwriting agent.