Q. Why would an agent ask me to sign a document stating that the script I am sending him is not under consideration at any other signatory agency and that I will not send it to any other signatory agency while it is under consideration at his agency?
Because he doesn't want to compete with other agents. He doesn't want to take the time to read your material if there's a chance he'll like it and you'll say, "You know what? I'm going with Innovative Artists." Then you've wasted his time.
It's not a terrifically enforceable contract, but it probably makes him feel more comfortable reading you. There should obviously be a time limit; he shouldn't hang you up for more than a couple weeks.
I just thought it seemed weird. This is a one-man agency, and the agent reps mostly actors - lots and lots of actors. Even the writers he represents seem to be writer/actors or writer/director/actors.
If you're not comfortable with the guy, tell him now and don't waste his time.
But bear in mind, any WGA signatory agent is better than no agent. And if he wants to rep you, you can still, by California law, back out of any agency contract after four months, if you don't have a bona fide offer. So unless there are other agents clamoring to rep you, there's little downside to giving the guy a shot.
I would never give someone an open-ended exclusive. My response would be, "I've been sending this to a lot of people lately, so me promising not to send it to anyone else for a short period of time won't really accomplish anything. That being said, if you want me to not send it to someone else for two weeks, that's fine. But I can't reasonably give you anything longer than that."
A major agency could make a legitimate claim that they needed a week or two to make a decision. (One person reads it, likes it, passes it to two others, they read and like it, they discuss at staff meeting.) Anything longer than that, however, is basically allowing them to throw your script on the pile and not read it.
They don't need an exclusive to do that.
Furthermore, if you have some interest (from another deal, or from a major contest win, etc) then you should say, politely, no, they can't have an exclusive, you're in a hurry to get your representation locked down and can't shut down all the other interest on the possibility that this one agent might be interested.
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