Monday, January 31, 2011
How do you get an agent?
By far the question I get asked the most is how do you get an agent?
I wish there was an easy answer. But the truth is you need persistence, sometimes a little ingenuity, and luck.
There is a directory of agents that the Writers Guild offers. Some smaller agencies will accept new submissions. Contact all of them.
Try to distinguish yourself. And by that I don’t mean grab a sign and stand on the interstate. This is a writing career, not voiceover work. Bizarre stunts like billboards and Mardi Gras float cars just scream that you’re a loser and need to be hospitalized. That is not what you want.
Get yourself noticed by entering and winning contests, be the pride of your college’s writing program, write a play or short film or YouTube video that attracts positive attention.
Networking and contacts are important. That’s one of the reasons it’s so much easier if you’re in Los Angeles. You can work out in the same gym as an agent. He's the guy on the Stairmaster texting. A fellow parent at your kids’ school could be a tenpercenter (I always loved that expression). Get into any pick-up basketball game in West L.A. Chances are you’ll be slamming a WME agent into the boards before too long.
Do you know a working writer who is a big fan of your work? Ask him to recommend you to his agent. Do you have a professor who loves your work and is willing to make a few calls on your behalf?
Date Anne Hathaway.
Find out where agents went to college. Maybe you and a CAA guy both are Southwest Arkansas State A & M alums. Use that as an introduction.
Do you know anyone on the crew of a multi-camera show? See if they’ll get you on the floor during a filming night. There are always a few agents milling about. They’re the guys in nice suits hanging around the craft-services table. Texting. Casually make their acquaintance.
Go to work in an agency mailroom.
Keep an eye out for Learning Annex, UCLA extension, and WGA classes and lectures.
Freeze your ass off at the Sundance film festival.
Date Aaron Sorkin.
Of course, connecting with an agent means nothing if you don’t have the goods. Most agencies want three writing samples – two current show specs and original material like a pilot, play, or screenplay. If you are lucky enough to have an agent consider your scripts, make sure they’re the very best work you’ve ever written. Sometimes you only get one chance.
Good luck. I know it’s hard but talented writers do find agents. You be one of them.