You want me? You really do want me!

April 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

Ah, there is truly nothing like finding solid representation that not only believes in you and your talent, but gives you that extra confidence and hope of building a career. Representation on its own doesn’t always mean a sale or success, but a manager or agent is an important member on your team as you forge a screenwriting career. It’s always going to be an adventure, but we love adventure, right?  If you’re “hot” you will attract interest, but just never get “cold” as the interest will chill like that martini you’ll be drinking to drown your sorrows.

Finding an agent or manager is a lot like dating, except it’s your script out there in the trenches and hopefully it’s charming and attractive enough for the agent or manager to believe in it to sell.  Bottom line, if you write a fantastic script it will find its way to someone who will recognize your amazing storytelling ability.  Write a script that will have agents and managers calling to find YOU — not the other way around.   Spend your time working on your craft and being the best writer you can be and the rest will fall into place.

That being said, I’ve had probably five different managers and agents during the course of my adventures in the screentrade to date—some were fantastic and others were not. Some agents were at big agencies and managers at both boutique and big management companies. The problem was that like any relationship, during our march up the mountain together, it took time to figure out who wasn’t really working at the level that I thought they were to further my career. Precious time.

handshake cartoonThe worst situation is when you fall into the false sense of security—being so thankful for any representation that you completely loose sight of the fact time marches on and now it’s been a year with a few meetings or maybe only a handful of submissions. We always want our latest screenplay to sell and move us forward on the playing field of Hollywood, right?  It’s a team effort, so you must always provide new material to your rep, but you’ll need to see real signs the rep is doing the best job to provide the tactics and plan the missions to get you into the inmost cave.

Okay, if your first screenplay goes out and doesn’t sell but gets you meetings, that’s okay—it’s your second and third projects that will usually determine if the rep’s interest fizzles and they cut you loose. The agent or manager usually does not have the time to hang on with the hopes their client will eventually sell something or get work. It’s also their reputation out there and how does it look if their client repeatedly does not work?

Sure it could be the marketplace and the fact that it’s damn near impossible to sell anything, but surely it will focus back on you as the rep’s confidence wanes in your talent and ability to craft projects that sell. You’ll stick around longer if you have a solid body of work and continually give new material to your rep to put into the pipeline. Don’t be a “one script wonder” because it will probably take a handful of solid screenplays to make some noise. Also be a master at executing notes because this is so important when you do land a job. Your ability to execute script notes will determine if you stay on the project or get fired.

One day you may turn in a new script and your rep says, “it’s not for me.”  Did you hear the other shoe drop?  Just because a signature is on a representation contract doesn’t always mean someone is burning the midnight oil to find you work.  Never, please never forget this: You must always be out making new contacts and building new film industry relationships because you can’t entrust everything to your rep to do even when they are fantastic.  You need to do the work as well. It’s now a team effort—you can’t drop off a script and expect in a few weeks the job offers to come rolling in.  The journey of one screenplay could take a year or more so get ready. Sure, you may sell your first script to the first company that reads it—but that’s like winning the lottery.  How much did you win from your last scratcher or Powerball ticket?  It’s the long marathon screenwriter who survives.

Also, do not judge yourself as a writer only by some agent or manager’s opinion of your work.  I once received feedback back in the day on my script from an agent who held court at a powerful and mighty agency.  He said only bad things about my script—this was a script that had just nearly won the Academy’s prestigious Nicholl Fellowship at the Motion Picture Academy!  It placed in the top few dozen of all entries the year it was entered and it eventually went on to being produced and distributed worldwide.   Who knows the reasoning behind any given feedback?  I think we as writers know in our hearts if something is good, clear and speaks the truth.  Get in touch with writing the truth and scripts that represent your unique voice.

beating the odds as a screenwriterIf you think about the sheer volume of scripts out there it could make your brain freeze.  I just read about the 7,251 scripts entered in the Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting contest for 2013.  That’s a staggering amount of writers all doing their best to get their script over the wall.  More sobering stats: On the average about 100 specs sell in Hollywood each year. Spec scripts sold in Hollywood in 2012: 132 scripts.  2011: 110 scripts.  2010: 55 scripts.  2009: 68 scripts.  2008: 87 scripts. WGAw’s annual report for 2014 states that only 4,745 writers made any income in the previous year throughout the guild. Do you still want to be a screenwriter?  Of course you do!  Who are you kidding?  You love it more than anything else — or you’d better!  It’s in your blood.

Write something from your heart that tells the truth and it will eventually find a believer.  Always be involved in chartering the course of your career and remember. Trust others, but keep tight reins and do your best to not waste precious time with those who promise the world and deliver nothing.  You know the sacrifices and time it takes to craft your projects.  Surround yourself with like-minded people who truly champion your overall career as a writer, not just one project.  Hollywood is  a place where everyone says they’ll read your script because they want credit for their good intentions—it’s the follow through that’s a bitch.

Write something that will make noise and have agents and managers calling to find YOU — not the other way around.

It is your responsibility to charter the course and take the helm. Never allow precious time to waste with an agent or manager in your corner who doesn’t truly believe in your talents and ability as much as you do.  Time is too precious on our adventure.  Remember this simple statement and write it down and post it near your computer:

There will never be anyone who cares about your career as much as you do.”   Read my article: “Always Remember It’s Your Career.”

Some insights from author Steven Pressfield in his amazing book “The War of Art”:

For the Artist to define himself hierarchically is fatal.  Let’s examine why. First let’s look at what happens in a hierarchical orientation.  An individual who defines himself by his place in a pecking order will:

1)   Compare against all others in the order, seeking to elevate his station by advancing against those above him, while defending his place against those beneath.

2)   Evaluate his happiness/success/achievement by his rank within the hierarchy, feeling most satisfied when he’s high and most miserable when he’s low.

3)   Act toward others based on their rank in the hierarchy, to the exclusion of all other factors.

4)   Evaluate his every move solely by the effect it produces on others. He will act for others, dress for others, speak for others, and think for others.

But the Artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling.  If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer his whole life.  In the hierarchy, the Artist faces outward. Meeting someone new he asks himself, “What can this person do for me?”  “How can this person advance my standing?”  In hierarchy, the Artist looks up and looks down.  The one place he can’t look is that place he must: within—Steven Pressfield

Scriptcat out!

Speaking of screenplays… did you just finish your latest magnum opus and need in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information.

Screenplay consultation services

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