Why You Need Representation for Screenwriting?

  • By Stanley T. Westfall
  • 12 Apr, 2017
If you're a new screenwriter, you may have learned the hard way that you must have representation, from either a manager or an agent. Most production companies and studios will not read your screenplay if you don't have someone representing you. So how do you go about getting a rep? Here are a few pointers:

You should have a least one great polished script, preferably several of them to showcase your talent. Most agents and managers prefer to work with someone who has the potential for a long career, not just be a one-hit-wonder, so to speak.

Study the industry. That is, read the trades, such as Variety and Hollywood Reporter to learn more about the players and what is going on. Also consider subscribing to IMDb Pro (Internet Movie Database) so that you can do deeper research as well as read many informative articles and reviews.

It may sound obvious but you'd be surprised at how many new writers are unfamiliar with the movies in the genre they want to write for. Watch everything you can and analyze what really works and what doesn't work.

You can locate managers and agents in industry guides, such as Variety 411, the Hollywood Creative Directory and others source books, many of which are found at Samuel French and the like online.

Study the directory listing for each rep, taking note of how they prefer to be contacted, by email or hard copy by snail mail. It can start you on a good footing. Also note what genres, budgets and overall environments for which they are competent.

If you are contacting a rep by phone, have your pitch ready. You should practice it, just as actors practice their lines. The last thing you want to do is get a manager or agent on the phone and then stammer or sound unsure of yourself.

When you do get someone on the phone, be courteous yet business-like. Get to your point quickly to show you respect their time.

Also create a killer logline that will be part of your pitch. You can learn how to create loglines in the many books on screenwriting.

If the agent or manager shows interest in reading your script, get it to them when you say you will, but don't expect to get a fast turnaround. Execs in this business are extremely busy and have people coming at them from every angle. And if you decide to send a hard copy of the script, as opposed to a PDF (e-file), be sure that you include a stamped self-addressed envelope for them to mail it back in if you want it returned. This will indicate a high level of professionalism to the rep.

Before sending out your script, make sure you register it with the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) and/or copyright it through the U.S. Copyright Office to protect your intellectual property.

Study your craft. Read books, attend workshops. Be prepared for hard work both to become a better writer and to produce more work. The film and TV industries have no room for dilettantes.

Finally, be patient. Don't expect to become an overnight success. But hold on to your dreams, even if you experience rejection at first, because there may well be a lot of it. This is a very tough industry. There are a lot of sharks, but there are also many decent, honorable reps. You can find them if you persevere.

Ms. Nadel Paris is a screenwriter, published author, recording artist, musician, music producer, songwriter and a dancer.
Nadel and her staff have been the driving factor towards personal growth for children for years working with them in voice placement, voice projection.
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