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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Q. I sent my script out to a bunch of agencies ten days ago. Now, after meeting me, one wants to represent me. What about the other agencies? Should I tell the first agent I'm waiting to hear from the other agents? This agent ad the other are all legit agents, though one I'm waiting to hear from is a bigshot.
One of the rarest things to have in Hollywood is a champion. And almost nothing gets done without one. Projects don't get set up without a champion, and writers don't get jobs without champions.

Your agent is your personal champion.

And what that means is, the most important thing in choosing an agent is her enthusiasm for you. If I had to reduce it to a formula, I'd say the value of your agent is enthusiasm x enthusiasm x clout.

You have someone who read your script inside ten days, which is fast, met you right away, and offered to represent you. That's enthusiasm.

Here's the surprising thing: agents are people with feelings. You think they're cold-hearted professionals? That's a role they play when negotiating for you. But agents are people who feel about their relationships with their clients the way you feel about your stories, the way a tightrope walker feels about being on the wire: it's what they get up in the morning for. At least, the ones who are any good.

And it's easy to kill their enthusiasm. If you tell this agent you're waiting to hear from the others, what she's going to hear is that you're just not that into her, but she'll do in a pinch. She's going to feel rejected. Maybe even hurt. And there goes the enthusiasm. She might, conceivably, still rep you? But her heart won't be in it.

I know it's hard to tell other people "no" before they've said anything, especially Mr. Bigshot. But Mr. Bigshot hasn't read your script yet, and didn't call you to meet.

And, actually, your stock will go up with all those other agents. Even Mr. Bigshot. Call and thank them, of course. Next time, maybe they'll read your script faster.

I think as much as possible, you go with the enthusiasm.

So-- congratulations! You've got a champion.

UPDATE:

DMc responds in the comments:
.You're mostly right here, Alex. But a couple of caveats. You never go into enthusiasm blind. Your research should be done first. Due diligence should not be considered an insult; if it is then that should be a red flag.

If I was the person in question, I'd signal genuine thanks for the enthusiasm, say that you had set a couple meetings already and will let them know in a few days when you've followed through.

Take your swing at others for contrast but don't keep that person on the hook. Let them know you will get back to them in, say, 5 days once you've fulfilled your other responsibilities.

Part of that relationship is being able to commit to that person fully because you know they're the best for you. To do that one must erase doubt. Asking for a few days to do that is an investment in your future relationship, and if they didn't see it that way, I'd be concerned about how the business relationship would progress.
Well, that's the conundrum. In principle, sure, get back to them in 5 days. But in my experience, that's risky. A director friend of mine did that with an agency, and lost the agency. The agents' feeling was basically, "Don't ask me out on a date if you're not sure you want to sleep with me." Which is unreasonable, sure, and even in dating you ought to be allowed a few dates before you fall into bed. But in real life, there's a risk to tell a girl who's hot for you, "I'm not sure I want to go out with you yet, I'm dating some other girls and they might be better." Your girl who's hot for you may just dump you, and your early doubts will always be part of the relationship and make her doubt your commitment to it. All my best relationships started with fireworks.

So sure, I think you can delay on the grounds of you want to get to know them better first. But I don't think you can on the basis of you're checking out other agencies. I think that will kill the buzz.

Basically, I think you have to do the due diligence before you send in your material. Make sure any agency you're applying to is an agency you'd want to get with. And then if they're interested, have a meeting or two and ask questions. Feel free to go back and ask for another meeting, to get to know them better. Or lunch. Lunch is always good. But no, DMc, I'd be very careful about asking for 5 days. I'd ask for lunch, but not 5 days.

Note also that I'm talking about enthusiasm. If they're not jumping all over themselves to sign you -- if their "yes" is qualified -- you are entitled to be equally cautious.

Labels:

5 Comments:

You're mostly right here, Alex. But a couple of caveats. You never go into enthusiasm blind. Your research should be done first. Due diligence should not be considered an insult; if it is then that should be a red flag.

If I was the person in question, I'd signal genuine thanks for the enthusiasm, say that you had set a couple meetings already and will let them know in a few days when you've followed through.

Take your swing at others for contrast but don't keep that person on the hook. Let them know you will get back to them in, say, 5 days once you've fulfilled your other responsibilities.

Part of that relationship is being able to commit to that person fully because you know they're the best for you. To do that one must erase doubt. Asking for a few days to do that is an investment in your future relationship, and if they didn't see it that way, I'd be concerned about how the business relationship would progress.

By Blogger DMc, at 9:48 AM  

Presumably this is someone he'd already researched and wanted to be repped by, no?

By Blogger Lisa Hunter, at 6:16 PM  

To get an agent to read a script and have a meeting within ten days is extraordinary -- to me that certainly sounds like enthusiasm. And perhaps the agent already has some places in mind for the project.

But, on the other hand, it might be an agent who signs a bunch of writers, throws their scripts all over town without much planning, then stops returning your calls if she gets a few passes.

The writer mentioned that all the agents were 'legit'. I assume that means WGA signatory. (If not, I might vamp to see if anyone else bites...)

Presumably the writer's meeting with the agent also touched on strategies for pushing his/her career rather than just the one script. If not, though, you might invite her for a quick cup of coffee (or meet in her office briefly) just to make sure you're on the same page.

But genuine enthusiasm by an agent is gold -- and it comes across as they're pitching your script to producers.

By Blogger VLucas, at 9:03 PM  

You've mentioned researching into the agency. Other than the creative directory and word of mouth, what other ways are viable for investigating?

By Blogger Tim, at 1:01 PM  

I think asking around is going to be the most informative thing. Especially if you can find some people who are repped by her. No one's going to trash talk their agent on the Internet.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 1:04 PM  

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