What is an agent?
A screenwriting agent deals with contract negotiations, packaging and presentation, and getting assignments for their clients. Agents tend to take on clients who have either already sold something, have a real vested interest by someone who wants to make their script into a movie or have someone interested in paying them for their writing. They rarely take on new writers who are just starting.
What’s the difference between an agent and a manager?
Managers are more likely to work with a newer writer and take a very hands-on approach to the relationship. They will read your drafts and help develop your scripts, and then they’ll take it and shop it around to see if the script generates any interest. Agents can do this as well, but they’re mainly about the business brokering side of things.
Agents can’t be attached as a producer to any projects they represent, while managers can. Managers don’t usually negotiate deals, but agents do.
Most writers starting out should be looking for a manager rather than an agent. A manager will help you develop your scripts and provide career guidance, whereas an agent is a better fit for a writer ready to proceed with some sort of deal.
How do managers and agents meet clients?
Go to events like film festivals, participate in writers’ groups, talk to industry people online. Networking can help you meet important industry folk and establish arapport with them.
Agents prefer referral scripts from people they trust over cold emails. If you have a manager and they have a relationship with agents, they can then go on to refer your script. Referrals don’t have to just come from managers, but can also come from producers, or even just friends of the agent, which is why networking and growing relationships with people in the industry are so important. You never know who knows who, and how a deal can come about. But as a reminder, networking and friend-making should be done authentically. Agents can smell desperation.
- Screenwriting Competitions, Festivals, Fellowships
Winning competitions or fellowships can generate interest from agents and managers, especially if they’re well-known contests. Just attending major festivals and networking there can also lead you to meet an agent or a manager, as they’ll attend festivals in search of potential clients.
What should I do to get signed?
There are two keys to getting signed:
One, keep writing, keep generating new material. You continuously want to grow and better yourself as a writer. Impressive scripts speak for themselves.
Two, get your work out there. Enter screenplay competitions and apply for fellowship opportunities. You don’t have to win these, as just placing can be enough to get your script noticed by agents or managers.
Representation isn’t everything
Don’t stress yourself out about needing representation. Focus on bettering your writing. Strong scripts will get noticed and unlock all sorts of doors for you. Focusing on your writing means that when you do come across an agent or a manager, they’ll be able to see that you’re a serious writer with a significant amount of material, and you can take things from there. You don’t want to waste your chance at representation by getting in front of a potential manager or agent when you’re not ready.
Hopefully, this blog was able to demystify what an agent does and help you consider if you need an agent right now. Remember, stay focused on bettering your writing first. Happy writing!