HIP POCKETSComplications Ensue
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

A "hip pocket" client is a client that the agency has not accepted as a client, but which an individual agent (or even agent's assistant) has agreed to take on as a personal client. The client is sort of probationary: if a sale results, then he has someone to rep him in the negotiations, but the agency doesn't find itself with an inflated roster of clients without buzz. I'm not sure what, if any, legal or fiduciary ramifications there are. Basically it means that the agent doesn't have the passion to sell you to the Monday morning meeting -- or you aren't hot enough to be sold there -- but they think that under the right circumstances they might be able to do something with you.
Q. What if you are a hip-pocket client to your agent, and you sell a script, a b-film, but a legitimate script to a legitimate film company. You get paid a fairly decent amount. Most importantly, so does your agent. And then you ask your agent to read a script of yours that an "in" you have at a huge studio wants to take a look at. She doesn't. She finally asks you to send in the script, she will call the "in" in a few days. She doesn't. But being nothing more than a hip pocket client, what do you do? Kill off this relationship and risk no representation or; continue with her (she does have a decent reputation in the biz)?
First of all, start looking for a new agent who will actually rep you fully. Right now. If you've sold a script, you should be able to find a real agent. As I've said in my books, the value of an agent is "enthusiasm x enthusiasm x clout": clout is important, but not nearly as important as passion. If you're a hip pocket client, your agent or your agency lacks faith in you.

Second, ask your agent if she's willing to have her assistant send the script in on her behalf. If she's unwilling to make an actual call. It should be no bother for her to have her assistant send in a script with a cover letter that says, "Per your conversation with my client, here is his brilliant script ______" etc.

If she hasn't either sent the script in or made the call within a week, then tell her you'll have to find someone else to submit the script.

If she wishes you good luck and godspeed, then she doesn't really want to be your agent, and you're better off without her.

If she says, "No, no, look! I'll send it!" then give her another chance. Until you find a real agent, that is.

Sometimes you don't get any action until you show that you've got other options. (And if you really have an "in," they'll read your script with just a release form.)

If your agent isn't willing to make specific submissions when you've already done the groundwork, then she doesn't care about you, and it's time for a new agent.

I don't think it's strictly necessary that your agent read your work provided that they're willing to rep it without reading it, based on your very clever and sizzly description of it. Legendary agent Swifty Lazar (he was responsible for much of his own legend, it is true) never read any of his clients' work. After all, what if he didn't like it?

Some agents don't really like to read. They like to make calls. If you have one of those agents, don't nag them to read, urge them to make calls. I think the best agents do read, but it is not, strictly speaking, a necessary part of the job. You can get script notes from people who like to read.

Loyalty to your agent is good, but it's a two way street. You're not obliged to be loyal to someone who isn't working it on your behalf. And you should always be chatting with agents you might like to represent you in the future, so that if your agency relationship goes South, you have people you can call up.


Thanks for taking the time to answer, Alex. Really appreciated!

By Blogger fu-fu-man, at 1:11 PM  

I'm a hip-pocket manager to one of my clients. A really talented L.A. based writer who, alas, has yet to get any serious attention by the upper echelon ranks of dev/prodco execs. He's got lots of scripts in various stages of completion but no agent. And since prodcos and development execs won't give you the time of day without official representation, he gives the scripts to me, and if I feel it's worthy (which I always do) I send it off with a note on my company letterhead in an effort to sell the project. I follow up with a little email and phone shmoozing, then pass them off to my client if they wish to take negotiations any further.

It's a great arrangement, I think, until my client finally scores an agent to properly represent him.

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 5:34 PM  

Extremely important question/answer. Thanks! Terrific explanation: "enthusiasm x enthusiasm x clout": clout is important, but not nearly as important as passion.

By Blogger Scribe LA, at 6:02 PM  

Word up on the hip-pocket kidz!

I'm one too, but haven't been one long enough to know if I'm impatient, or the Canadian industry is sluuuuggish, or both.

Good thing about being in this arrangement though is the next time I get myself (if she doesn't help shop it) a deal, I'm free to shop for another agent who may have a little more enthusiasm x enthusiasm x clout.

She did help me see what I really wanted and needed from the negotiations though, which was a great help. She was more focused on attaining the next career step, and didn't so much worry about haggling over price, which is minimal at this stage. I would have haggled though. She also took care of all those anoying little legal details.

My job is to write write write, and soon hopefully her job will be to get producers to read read read.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 PM  

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