Staffing Season, Part Trois - Complications Ensue
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Friday, February 09, 2007

I'm continuing to double check my info on when to send your specs out. My L.A. manager confirms (a) avoid February/March as it's the run-up to staffing season, and (b) avoid June as agents are looking for pilots to sell. (Which suggests that June is a good time to go out with a spec pilot.)

And it goes without saying that during staffing season itself (April/May/early June) you'd be lucky to get an agent to return your call if you're not their client.(Actually if you do have an agent, they may not be returning your calls reliably, either.)

One reader mentioned this happy post from fellow bloguiste Procrastinatey In Which She Gets An Agent in Mid-January. I asked her about why she chose January:
I had heard that starting any later would probably be too late for that staffing season. And that starting around March, agents would be too busy with their own clients to consider taking on new ones, so I should start early.

I had just won the Warner Bros. workshop and was a finalist in the Disney Fellowship, both of which happened in December, so I was advised to take advantage of that while I could. Since December would be fairly inactive due to the holidays [ed note: practically comatose after the 15th], I started right after the New Year, and found for the most part that the TV lit agents I chose to contact were all back in town and ready for business the first week of January. At that point, I felt I had a fairly solid portfolio, and with the added backing of being in a studio program, it felt a little less like begging for representation and more like going in on equal footing. I don't know if that made any tangible difference, but it did matter a huge deal to my sense of confidence.

It could be that Fall is the best season, as you mentioned; in my case, the timing just worked out a bit later than that. Since most of the programs select their participants in November-December, waiting a little longer for the possibility of being selected might be a risky move... but the name recognition of being selected (or finalisted) could be very helpful in getting agents' attention initially. I found that was certainly true for my case. But, it wasn't that I was waiting and counting on winning contests; it was more that the program results lit the fire and encouraged me to get hustling.
So January, clearly, works.

Two caveats. The more of a brand you have, the more you can ignore the cycles. If Jane Espenson wanted a new agent smack in the middle of staffing season, she'd get one in about two minutes.

Also, if you have something fresh to go out with now, early February, it is better to go out than wait till after staffing season. You don't want to miss staffing season if you can get into it.

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3 Comments:

I had the same questions about your Christmas hiatus advice. In fact, I've found that holidays in general have been good for getting reads. Assistants and others are, for some reason, apparently checking up on email that they didn't have time for at work. I've had producers, in fact, email me immediately after querying. So, while folks may be away from the office, they're NOT away from their computers and such--far from it. They're on 'em and reading those query emails!

By Blogger iyami, at 11:43 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger elephant, at 10:02 AM  

I would think some of the best times to submit specs are when no one else is doing it (like during winter and summer breaks), mainly because there's less to compete with.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 8:43 AM  

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